By Joe Ceraulo
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the first time in school history, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies beat the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome, 60-57 in overtime Friday night.
The eleventh matchup between the schools in the Carrier Dome resulted in St. Bonaventure’s first win over the Orange since beating them on Jan. 27, 1981 in the Reilly Center.
Sophomore guard Tyus Battle started the scoring with a three for the Orange, but struggled the rest of the way, making just three of 18 shots while playing all 45 minutes.
The teams would trade baskets early in the first half, with the crowd growing louder and louder after each successful Bonaventure possession. Head coach Mark Schmidt noted the support from the Bonnies’ faithful, who traveled to Syracuse for the team’s most important non-conference game in recent memory.
“This is a legacy game for our guys,” Schmidt said. “When we’re long gone, Bonaventure will be talking about this game.”
Senior guard Jaylen Adams got hot for the Bonnies late in the first half. He made consecutive threes with just over four minutes left before halftime to put St. Bonaventure up 28-23.
His biggest shot of the half came with 2:09 left. Junior Courtney Stockard drove into the paint, dished the ball out to Adams, who got his defender to leave his feet with a pump fake, took a dribble to his right and drained a three.
He went into the locker room with a game-high 21 points as St. Bonaventure led 40-33 at halftime.
The second half would be a completely different story for the Bonnies.
The crowd erupted for the road team after the Bonnies forced a turnover and followed it up with an emphatic slam by junior forward LaDarien Griffin.
Clear “Let’s go Bona’s” chants could be heard from the Carrier Dome crowd of 20,976 fans after the dunk.
“One of the reasons I took this job 11 years ago was the commitment these fans and the alumni have to basketball,” Schmidt said. “Wherever we go, small town or big city, we always have a great following, and at times, tonight felt like a home game.”
The Bonnies’ offense went cold after that, scoring just two points in the final 11:45 of regulation. The team’s last field goal of the night came on an Amadi Ikpeze dunk at the 7:17 mark.
In a sloppy second half that featured 20 total turnovers, Syracuse outscored St. Bonaventure 20-13 to tie the game.
Both Battle and freshman forward Oshae Brissett, who finished with 15 points and 13 rebouds, missed layups for the Orange in the final three second of regulation, sending the game to overtime.
The Bonnies didn’t need a field goal in overtime to regain control, as the team made seven of eight free throws, including Adams’s first points since the first half when he hit a pair with six seconds left.
Adams coupled his 23 points with a season-high nine rebounds. After the game, he credited his teammates’ personalities for their ability to mentally stay in the game after squandering the lead.
“We [the seniors] are going to lead, and we got the right guys to follow,” Adams said. “Courtney [Stockard] stepping up and taking that charge, he didn’t make a shot in the last I don’t know how long, but he still stepped up and made a play. That’s the personality of this team. We’re going to get it done somehow, someway.”
That charge came with 12 seconds remaining in overtime.
Brissett drove into the paint and was greeted just outside the restricted area by Stockard, who drew the charge that gave the Bonnies both the ball and momentum back.
After the game, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was not pleased with his team’s shooting performance but credited the effort the players showed.
“In the second half we took him [Adams] out and forced other people to shoot, but when we did get opportunities, we missed free throws, missed a big dunk, and when you’re behind you need to fight,” Boeheim said. “This team fought and did a lot well, but it’s hard to win when you shoot 30 percent from the field and 15 percent from the three-point line.”
When asked about continuing the rivalry between these two upstate New York schools, Schmidt replied, “We’d like to have more games in the Reilly Center. If we didn’t have to come here all the time, that would be good for us.”
The Bonnies will be back in action Saturday, Dec. 30 when the team hosts the University of Massachusetts at 2:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network to tip off conference play in the Reilly Center.