By Jonathan Sawyer
Sports Associate Editor
Saturday against the George Washington Colonials, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies struggled to find the bottom basket, but bounced back at home just three days later, defeating the La Salle Explorers, 83-65.
The Bonnies came out with a hot start, trading baskets with the Explorers and keeping it around a two to four-point lead. Then, with under 10 minutes left in the first half, the Bonnies would start to hit their stride offensively and defensively. The Bonnies went on a 27 to nine run to end the half leading 51-30.
Explorers Head Coach Dr. John Giannini talked about when the Bonnies went on their run and how his team just couldn’t get anything going offensively.
“I don’t think it was any one thing, they were playing a high speed. The two guards are terrific,” Giannini said. “At the same time, our offense was really bogged down. I called what we wanted them to run and it would take us 15 to 20 seconds to get our guys to run it.”
Entering the second half, the Bonnies continued their scoring spree, holding a double digit lead for the whole second half, and putting the pressure on the Explorers until the final buzzer.
Senior forward Denzel Gregg would have a game he can remember forever, scoring a career high 28 points, 18 of which came in the first half, and grabbed eight rebounds. Gregg, who fouled out while only participating in 11 minutes of play on Saturday, showed his presence in the line up is critical.
Getting his confidence is all he needed to be able to put up his career high, according to Gregg.
“I was being aggressive from the jump and couple shots fell early and it was just a snowball effect from there,” Gregg said.
Bonnies Head Coach Mark Schmidt said Gregg playing like he did tonight helps the Bonnies.
“I thought this was the most complete game all year at both ends of the court. When Denzel plays like he did tonight, we can beat anybody.” Schmidt said. “He’s that third guy, he was aggressive, and wasn’t hesitant.”
Gregg gives the Bonnies flexibility, being able to defend the guard or forwards, said Giannini.
“He [Gregg] has had a great career here. He makes shots and he plays with energy, he’s a rebounder, a good defender,” Giannini said.
Junior guards Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams, along with Gregg, combined for 62 points in the game and Adams believes that if your going to take one away, there still is two others that can come out and affect your play.
“I think it’s always good when we’re hitting shots. Teams seem to come out focused on the guards, so whenever Denzel plays like this, it makes us hard to beat because it’s almost like pick your poison,” Adams said.
Schmidt said it is always good to have three guys who can score the ball.
“You always want to have three guys that are playing well and if you ever get that fourth guy, then you can be really good,” Schmidt said. “When we get three guys playing like they did tonight, it’s harder for guys to lock onto Jay and Matt.”
Adams totaled 16 points and dished out 12 assists. This is the second straight game that Adams has had a double-double. Mobley added 18 points and five rebounds.
Adams talked about his early numbers in assists and how he was finding his teammates.
“I just think that was the game flow, they went triangle and two early and were leaving guys open in transition. I was just coming out trying to push the ball and we beat the defense down the court the dimes were there,” Adams said.
The Explorers started conference play on a tear, winning their first five games. Since then, they are 2-6 in their last eight conference games including the loss tonight.
“I don’t think I have ever coached a team who was so good early in the year and is now playing like this. It is a very a new experience for me,” Giannini said.
With the win over the Explorers, the Bonnies are tied for fourth place with the George Mason Patriots and the Rhode Island Rams at 8-5 in the Atlantic 10 conference. The Bonnies will head on the road Saturday to Dayton to take on the Flyers at 2 p.m.