Lofton’s value, versatility shine in 11-assist performance

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If you’re a fan of box scores and a fan of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball, you’ve probably gotten used to seeing double-digit numbers next to Kyle Lofton’s name in the points category.

Lofton averaged over 14 points per game in each of his first two seasons at SBU, and through five games of a young 2020-21 season, he has averaged 13.2 points per game. On Wednesday, however, Lofton scored only four of Bona’s 83 points in a blowout win over Saint Joseph’s.

What the junior guard lacked in points, he made up for on the rest of the stat sheet.

Lofton dished out 11 assists, pulled down eight rebounds and had one steal against the Hawks, while two of his teammates enjoyed career-high scoring nights. Jaren Holmes scored 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting and 8-for-12 three-point shooting, while Jalen Adaway scored 24 points after shooting 11-for-12 from the field.

While Lofton’s offensive output against the Hawks was unusual for a player that had scored at least 13 points in each of the team’s first four games this season, Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said that his stat line on Wednesday showed the leadership that he brings to the team.

“He’s the leader,” Schmidt said. “He doesn’t care whether he scores one point or 25 points; he wants to win. He shared the ball and he’s smart.”

Lofton, who is a career 44% shooter from the floor and 32% shooter from beyond the three-point line, was 0-for-7 against the Hawks, and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. Despite struggling to make shots, he only turned the ball over twice.

“That’s what’s so special about him,” Schmidt said.” He doesn’t care about scoring. His shot’s not going down, but he’s still a team guy and that’s what you want.”

Since Lofton arrived at SBU before the 2018-19 season, he has been Schmidt’s “floor general” at the point guard position. He has averaged over 37 minutes per game (regulation-length games are 40 minutes) in each season for the Bonnies. He played 35 minutes in his collegiate regular-season debut two seasons ago.

Since the departure of Jaylen Adams from the point guard position for Bona three years ago, Lofton has been the guy that Schmidt has trusted to run that position, which is the centerpiece to his offensive system.

Lofton has shown that he has been a competent successor to Adams, being both durable and consistent in the back court. He started all 34 of the team’s games two years ago and all 31 of its contests a year ago. Over his career, he has averaged 4.9 assists per game and 2.3 turnovers per game.

And, even on nights that Lofton struggles on the offensive end, he makes plays for the Bonnies.

“He knew that (Holmes) had a hot hand (against Saint Joe’s), and every point guard, that’s what you do,” Schmidt said. “You go back to that guy. A lot of times, when you don’t shoot the ball well, your head goes down and you get worried about that, but (Lofton is) not that type of kid.”

After Adams graduated in 2018, it was a change of pace for Bona fans to see someone else playing point guard in Mark Schmidt’s offense.

When Lofton leaves, presumably after four full years of manning the point for the Bonnies, perhaps SBU fans will feel the same way about his successor.

Holmes scores 38 as Bona blows out Saint Joseph’s

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — If Jaren Holmes had been the only player to score for the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the Bonnies would have only lost to Saint Joseph’s by 19 points.

Holmes had a career-high 38 points on 14-for-22 shooting from the field and 8-for-12 shooting from three-point range, as the Bonnies blew out the Hawks, 83-57, on Wednesday at the Reilly Center.

Bona took a four-point lead into halftime, but it was a 25-6 second-half run that spanned nearly 10 minutes of game time that put the Hawks away. During the run, Holmes scored 17 points and hit three triples. After the Hawks finally broke a dry spell from three-point range with a triple by Jack Forrest, Holmes responded with a three of his own.

Four minutes later, he hit two more three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cap the best shooting night of his career.

“Guys kept giving me the ball in the right spots,” Holmes said. “My job at (SBU) is to hit shots, and I think I did that today. It definitely was my night. “

The junior guard from Romulus, Michigan attributed his success to finding holes in the Hawks’ zone defense, which SJU played nearly the entire game.

“They had holes in their zone, so we were just trying to exploit them,” Holmes said. “I was in those spots and ready to fire. We practice those shots in pregame warmups, and those were the shots that I was hitting tonight.”

Holmes’ shooting confidence, he said, has been aided by not only gelling with his teammates, but by the number of reps he has been able to get in leading up to this season.

“I’ve been getting a lot of reps in,” he said. “Shooting late nights, early mornings, and working with the guys and telling the guys ‘I’m here’ or ‘look for me there’. We’re just trying to feed off of each other. Me getting 38 (points) without my teammates is almost impossible, especially playing (against the) zone.”

Nearly lost in Holmes’ exceptional game was an 11-for-12 shooting night from Jalen Adaway, who scored 24 points without attempting a three-point shot. Adaway also pulled down seven rebounds and handed out four assists.

“(Holmes) and (Adaway) played exceptionally well,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We had 27 assists and seven turnovers; any coach in America would be happy with that. We attacked their zone effectively and we out-rebounded them, so we hit all of our marks.”

Holmes’ eight three-pointers land him third all-time for the most in a game in Bona history, not far behind Jaylen Adams, who hit 10 triples on 13 attempts against Saint Louis in 2018. Holmes also had 10 rebounds in the game, giving him his first double-double of the season.

Schmidt said that Holmes’ commitment to basketball and the time that he puts into the sport have shown.

“Every kid that works their tail off, as a coach, you want them to be successful and have nights like this,” Schmidt said. “I’m proud of him, and I know his teammates are.”

Adaway’s performance didn’t go unnoticed to Schmidt, either.

“(Holmes) has had some success in the Atlantic 10 before, but (Adaway) hasn’t,” Schmidt said of the junior transfer from Miami (OH). “A night like this should give him a lot more confidence.”

The Bonnies out-scored the Hawks 51-29 in the second half and shot 47% from the floor, while SJU shot 37%. Bona junior guard Kyle Lofton was kept off the score sheet for most of the night, but found other ways to contribute, dishing out 11 assists and pulling down eight rebounds to go with his four points.

Taylor Funk and Cameron Brown each scored 13 points for Saint Joseph’s, while Jordan Hall just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists. The Hawks fell to 0-8 and 0-3 in A-10 play.

The win was SBU’s second in a row, as the Bonnies now sit at 2-1 in A-10 play after beating Richmond and losing to Rhode Island. Bona is 4-1 overall.

“We’re getting more camaraderie with the new guys coming in, and I love the step that we’re taking,” Holmes said. “Ultimately, this was just a great win for us and a great stepping stone to keep moving up in the A-10.”

The Bonnies will be back at the RC on Saturday to play George Washington in a game that is scheduled to tip off at noon.

“You win and be competitive in the Atlantic 10 by winning your home games, protecting your home court, and trying to steal some on the road,” Schmidt said. “We’ve stolen one on the road, now we’ve protected our house one time. We have many more times where we need to protect our house, and we need to steal some more on the road.”