DAYTON, OH (WIVB) – Survive and advance. That’s the slogan this time of year.
St. Bonaventure did just that Tuesday night in Dayton, surviving a terrible shooting night from senior Jaylen Adams, who in turn actually came up up clutch scoring five of his eight points in the final minute to power the Bonnies out of the First Four and into the First Round of the Big Dance with a 65-58 win over #11 UCLA.
The victory is the first for the program since 1970 — a moment not lost on head coach Mark Schmidt.
“We hear the stories about 1970 and how disappointing it was that (Bill) Lanier got hurt and they didn’t have a chance to have a full team going to play Jacksonville,” Schmidt said after the win. “Everybody talks about about if Lanier was healthy they would have taken on UCLA. This victory is for those guys.
“It’s a special moment,” he continued. “Where we came 11 years ago, when I walked into the locker room we had three players. They had won 24 games in four years. Some people said I shouldn’t take the job. For us to go from having three players to beating UCLA in 11 years, it’s something I’m really proud of.
“I got great assistant, great players and kids that really strive to be good. Our guys, we always talk about we’re a bunch of misfits. No one wanted us. We come to Bonaventure and work our tails off. It is emotional because we know how much we’re put into this.”
After starting 0-8 from the floor, Adams finally made his first bucket with 3:04 remaining in the first half. He’d ultimately missed 14 of his first 15 shots, before hitting his second field goal with :48 seconds left.
“Going in I missed some shots early that I thought was supposed to drop,” Adams said after the win. “I hung my head a little bit, but my teammates picked me back up. My coaches told me to keep playing.”
Even with Adams’ struggles, it was junior forward Courtney Stockard keeping Bona in the game, shouldering the load with a game high 26 points despite still battling from a hamstring injury suffered in the Atlantic-10 Tournament.
“I still wasn’t 100 percent yet,” Stockard admitted after the final buzzer sounded. “But, I’m feeling way better than when I did when I left the Richmond game. So, I can’t really let an opportunity like this pass. So I’m just out here playing.”
“This guy right here played so well. he picked us up. He picked the whole team up,” Adams said of Stockard. “We rallied behind him and the win wouldn’t have been possible without him.”
“That’s how you win basketball games. Your stars have to play well, but your role guys, they’ve got to pick it up and play well and fill those roles and they did,” echoed Head Coach Mark Schmidt. “Courtney did an extremely good job.”
Matt Mobley chipped in with 14 while LaDarien Griffin added 10 off the bench for Bona.
As a team the Bonnies got it done on defense as well, turning 20 Bruin turnovers into 30 points, compared to UCLA’s three.
“The difference today was points off of turnovers,” Schmidt admitted. “To be able to outscore UCLA by 27 with the talent that they have, that’s a credit to our guys.”
With the victory, the Bonnies advance to the First Round where they will square off against 6-seed Florida on Thursday night. The game is scheduled to tip-off around 10 p.m. and can be seen on truTV.