NEWARK, N.J. – With 14:22 remaining in the game, St. Bonaventure’s Jalen Adaway made a pair of free-throws to give the Bonnies a three-point lead over the #15 team in the country.
Over the next three minutes, UCONN went on a 13-0 run, propelling the Huskies to a 74-to-64 victory at the Prudential Center on Saturday.
The Bonnies cut the Husky lead to just five with 3:58 remaining, but the Brown and White could not draw closer than that.
“I thought it was a great college game,” St. Bonaventure Coach Mark Schmidt said following the loss. “We came up short. We had our chances. [The score was] 60-to-55. We could not get a rebound, and then they get an offensive rebound put-back three-point play. From that point on, it was over.”
Even though the Bonnies lost by double-digits, they won some important matchups on the stat sheet.
“If someone told me we were going to out-rebound UCONN by three, and then hold [RJ] Cole to 5-for-15 and 1-for-7 from three, I thought we would have a legitimate shot,” Schmidt said. “And we did… But [the Huskies] made the plays when they needed a play. We did not make enough plays, but give UCONN credit. They made plays when they needed to.”
But games are played on the court, not on paper. Even though the Bonnies had more points in the paint (34-to-28), more second chance points (13-to-8), and more rebounds (40-to-37), Bona still lost by double-digits.
“Their length affected us a little bit,” Schmidt admitted.
In the first-half, both teams struggled to sustain any offensive success. The Bonnies shot 10-of-32 while the Huskies made 11 of their 29 attempts.
UCONN headed to the locker room with a 29-to-28 lead.
Despite the offensive struggles, Bona put up a valiant defensive effort over the first 20 minutes.
“That’s how we want to play,” Schmidt said when asked about his team’s defense in the first half. “We want to keep it in the half-court. We had too many turnovers in the first half. But they had 17 points against our set defense. They had 12 points off of turnovers.”
Bona coughed it up on eight occasions in the first half. They finished with 11 turnovers for the entire game.
What was perhaps even more impressive for Bona was that Osun Osunniyi only played six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
“I picked up two dumb fouls really early,” Osunniyi said.
He finished the game with ten points, scoring all of them in the second half.
Dominick Welch also scored in double figures. He had 15 points and made two key three-pointers. He fouled out of the game with 35 seconds remaining.
The only two Bonnies to play the full 40 minutes were Jalen Adaway and Jaren Holmes.
Adaway made his first shot of the game, a beautiful, turn-around jumper along the baseline to give Bona the early lead.
But he struggled from then on. The Logansport, Indiana native failed to replicate his productive outing against Loyola Maryland. Adaway tallied 14 points, shooting 5-for-16 from the field.
Holmes, who is still filling in for injured point guard Kyle Lofton, finished with 19 points as he shot 6-for-14 from the field. He dished out five assists, but turned the ball over five times.
“[I’m] grateful for the opportunity,” Holmes told me when I asked him about his role as the floor general. “I could have had a better showing. It’s a learning moment. And it just gives me confidence moving forward that I can play… I don’t pride myself on turning the ball over and a lot of those turnovers were [on] me in the first half. [But] I’m gonna go and change it and it won’t happen again. And I will be better from it and I will be better from this experience. I will be better for my team. It was a great opportunity. I felt that I did the best that I could. I could have done much more, but obviously this is a learning experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity to showcase my versatility.”
Holmes also grabbed eight rebounds and was whistled for a couple of questionable offensive fouls.
“We’re going to talk about this loss for 24 hours,” Holmes added. “Then it’s right back to work.”
The Bonnies are now 8-2 on the season and will have to regroup before taking on Virginia Tech next Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jack Milko received his B.A. in Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. He is now working to get his M.A. in Sports Journalism from St. Bonaventure University. A lifelong fan of the Bonnies, Jack covers the team for @A10Talk. Follow him on Twitter for more Bonnies coverage at @Jack_Milko.
Featured image courtesy of Dan Nelligan, St. Bonaventure Class of 2020, who serves as a photographer for @A10Talk.