On the heels of their surprising loss at La Salle, St. Bonaventure entered Saturday’s game at No. 15 Dayton in dire need of a quality win for its NCAA tournament résumé. Despite dealing with first-half foul trouble that saw two starters in Marcus Posley and Denzel Gregg called for three fouls apiece the Bonnies found a way to get the job done, winning 79-72 at UD Arena.
The keys for Mark Schmidt’s team: managing to keep Dayton from getting out in transition on a regular basis, and a standout performance from sophomore guard Jaylen Adams.
Dayton certainly had its moments with regards to getting out in the open floor, as one would expect of a team featuring Scoochie Smith , Dyshawn Pierre and Charles Cooke III as players who can get the ball and attack off the bounce. But the Bonnies did a much better job of limiting the Flyers’ quality looks than they did in the first meeting back in January, a game Dayton led by as much as 31 before hanging on for the 85-79 victory.
On that day Dayton shot 57.1 percent from the field and 9-for-15 from three. In the rematch, St. Bonaventure limited the Flyers to 41.1 percent from the field and 5-for-21 from beyond the arc. The Bonnies were much improved defensively, which was exactly what they needed in order to be in position to pick up the win.
What also helped was the fact that Adams was on his game offensively, especially with Posley (12 points on 3-for-12 shooting) having to navigate foul trouble. Adams scored 31 points on the day, and his three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining was the game’s biggest shot. The three broke a 72-all tie, and with Dayton unable to convert on the other end the Bonnies were able to close the game out at the foul line.
Add in an important 15-point, eight-rebound effort from Dion Wright and a 10-for-20 day from three, and St. Bonaventure leaves Dayton with a win that not only enhances their NCAA tournament profile but also keeps them alive in the Atlantic 10 race.
Dayton’s one of the teams in the Atlantic 10 that’s in good shape when it comes to getting into the NCAA tournament, with Saint Joseph’s and VCU also well-positioned to hear their name called Selection Sunday. But these last two games serve as a reminder of just how important forward Kendall Pollard is to their team. Pollard’s missed the last three games with a knee injury, as Dayton is looking to get him back to full strength for March.
Until he returns players such as Steve McElvene and Sam Miller will have to do their best to fill the void, but neither (at this time) is the player that Pollard is within the Dayton system.
Even without Pollard, beating a Dayton team that had won its last 20 Atlantic 10 home games is no easy task. St. Bonaventure managed to do just that, keeping themselves in the running for an at-large bid as a result.