Courtesy of GoBonnies.com
Virtually nothing went right for St. Bonaventure for the first three-quarters of Tuesday’s game against Saint Joseph’s. But the last six minutes, everything the home team needed to happen did, and the Bonnies came back to top the Hawks 67-63 in an intense Atlantic 10 contest at the Reilly Center.
St. Bonaventure trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, the last time with 14:07 left. Midway through the half, the Bonnies trimmed their deficit to nine, only to see Saint Joseph’s regain control and lead 59-46 with 6:33 remaining.
But the Hawks went cold and the Bonnies seized the opportunity. Freshman Josh Ayeni‘s jumper with 1:31 left capped a 17-3 run and gave St. Bonaventure its first lead of the night at 63-62.
St. Bonaventure won its third straight game and improved to 13-6 overall and 5-2 in the Atlantic 10, good for a share of second place. Adams led the Bonnies with 19 points and five assists. Matt Mobley added 13 points – all coming over the final nine minutes. Ayeni and Denzel Gregg both scored 12, and Gregg grabbed 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season.
How It Happened:
Coming off their lone bye in the A-10 schedule, the Bonnies struggled to find any rhythm throughout the first half. Saint Joseph’s opened a 13-2 lead by the 12:37 mark.
The Hawks maintained a double-digit lead the whole first half. Even after Idris Taqqee banked in a last-second three-pointer from 35 feet, the Bonnies trailed 42-27 at halftime, their biggest deficit at halftime of the season.
St. Bonaventure went just 11-26 shooting (42 percent) in the first half compared to 17-31 (54 percent) by the Hawks. Saint Joe’s was 6-of-11 from three-point range in the first half.
Things did not turn around quickly after the break, as Saint Joseph’s pushed its lead to 18 points.
Josh Ayeni’s three-point play was followed by three-pointers by Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams, and the 9-0 spurt cut the Bonnies’ deficit to 53-44 with 11:50 left. Mobley’s shot at the 12:18 mark was his first field goal of the game.
Saint Joseph’s regained control, scoring six of the next eight to push its lead up to 13 at 59-46 with 6:33 left.
It was still a 10-point SJU lead when Mobley made a three-pointer with 4:10 remaining.
After a Hawks free throw, Mobley drained another three to pull St. Bonaventure within five at 62-57 at the 3:38 mark.
Following a St. Joseph’s miss, Ayeni was fouled and made two free throws for a 62-59 score.
Mobley’s jumper with 2:18 left made it a 62-61 game and fully engaged the RC crowd.
After Chris Clover missed a jumper for the visitors, Ayeni took a pass from Adams, pump-faked his defender and calmly made a jumper from just inside the free throw line that put the Bonnies ahead for the first time all night at 63-62 with 1:31 left.
Charlie Brown missed a three-pointer for St. Joseph’s and Adams rimmed out a three-pointer for the Bonnies, but Idris Taqqee grabbed the offensive rebound. Adams was fouled and he made two free throws with 27 seconds left to put the Bonnies up 65-62.
Brown had a chance to tie the game but missed from the wing. James Demery snagged the rebound and was fouled by Ayeni with eight seconds left. Demery made one of two free throws.
Adams sealed the win with two free throws.
Quotes From Coach Mark Schmidt:
“We didn’t play well, especially in the first half …we were just stagnant. Even the second half, the goal was to try to cut it to single digits by 10 minutes and we did it one time and they came back … we were dead in the water.”
“If you don’t have character guys, and tough guys and guys who want to win, we would’ve quit. It’s a credit to those guys to come back and hit the shots that we needed to hit and get the stops. We couldn’t have played better in the last five minutes. We found a way to win as a team when we weren’t playing our best.”
“There are going to be days and games where you’re don’t play well and those are the games you need to pull out if you want to have a decent year. This was one of those games where we didn’t play well, but we found a way. It’s a great lesson never to quit and our guys didn’t.”
On second half: “We changed defenses a little bit and played a little bit of zone. I thought the kids were really active with it. But, the bottom line is that we played harder. We had more passion. We had a sense of urgency that we didn’t have for the first 30 minutes of the game. In this league, if you don’t play with that urgency, if you don’t play with that passion, if you just think you’re gonna show up and play, you’re not gonna win. I don’t care who you’re playing.”
On Mobley: “Matt needs to score for us to win. He did that. He showed some toughness. He didn’t play well for the first 30 minutes, but he kept on working at it. And when you keep on working at it, good things can happen.”
Beyond The Boxscore:
St. Bonaventure has now won six in a row over Saint Joseph’s.
The Bonnies’ 5-2 mark in the A-10 is better than their start to A-10 play last season, when they opened 4-0 but then dropped three straight games.
Before Tuesday’s 15-point halftime deficit, the most the Bonnies had trailed at halftime this season was 10 to Army.
The 21 points scored by Saint Joseph’s in the second half is tied for the second-fewest points allowed by the Bonnies in a half this season.
Up Next: St. Bonaventure will face Rhode Island on Saturday at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I. Televised by NBC Sports Network, the game will tip at 2 p.m.