By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
Kyle Lofton was asked on a Zoom call Tuesday about the contributions of players like Jaren Holmes and Dominick Welch, classmates that don’t always receive the level of attention Lofton and Osun Osunniyi command from the fans, media and opposing teams.
Holmes ensured Wednesday that all entities who follow the St. Bonaventure Bonnies will be keeping a watchful eye on him for a very long time.
The junior guard, who’d scored an impactful but precedented 12 first-half points that helped push Bona to a halftime lead against St. Joseph’s, poured in 23 points over the last 13:38 and finished with 38 in an 83-57 win.
Holmes made eight 3-pointers, tied for the third most in a game in school history, and shot 14-of-22 from the field overall. He made six of his seven 3-point tries in the second half as the Bonnies outscored the Hawks 51-29 in the second period.
Holmes also collected 10 rebounds, marking his second career double-double and first since a win over St. Joe’s on March 4 in the Reilly Center. He was a basket away from the 22nd 40-point performance in program history when Mark Schmidt took him out of the game with 1:47 remaining. His previous Bona high was 21 last Feb. 5 against George Washington.
“To experience that, in this building, where so many Bonaventure players have gone for spectacular nights like this, it’s just amazing to be up there with those guys,” Holmes remarked. “Especially having one of those nights tonight and celebrating with my guys in the locker room, they’re extremely happy for me. All throughout the time out there they just told me to keep going, keep going, keep going, keep shooting it.”
Holmes and forward Jalen Adaway were the offensive standouts, as Adaway scored 14 points after making all seven of his field goals in the first half. Adaway, who notched a career-high 24 points, was eventually outshone on the stat sheet but was no less vital to Bona’s second win in three Atlantic 10 games.
Kyle Lofton, the star last Saturday against Richmond, was held without a field goal for just the second time in his career and held scoreless until there was 5:35 remaining. Dominick Welch and Osun Osunniyi combined for 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting, unable to break out against the Hawks’ zone. Bona benefited from just two bench points, an Anthony Roberts second-chance layup with 9:49 left.
Holmes and Adaway scored nearly 75 percent of the team’s baskets while Lofton shifted to finding the hot hand to the tune of 11 assists. He also corralled eight rebounds, pushing the tempo to secure quick baskets. Osunniyi grabbed 12 boards, his third double-figure rebound game of the year.
The Bonnies played their roles smoothly, making 60 percent of their second-half baskets and assisting on 16 of those 18 second-half field goals. The Hawks, a perimeter-reliant outfit, missed 10 of their 14 3-point attempts in the second stanza and watched a four-point halftime deficit grow to 27 with 44 seconds left.
Bona, which bolted to a 16-8 lead but fell behind by seven in the first half after failing to score for over six minutes, never relinquished the lead after Holmes’s 3-pointer put them up 28-26 with 2:34 until halftime. After holding Schmidt’s squad under 40 percent in the first half, Holmes’s long-range mastery was too much for the Hawks to overcome.
“My old AAU coach always tells me to trust the reps,” Holmes noted, “and I’ve just been getting a lot of reps in. Shooting late nights, early mornings, and working with the guys and telling the guys, ‘I’m here, I’m here. Look for me there.’
“We’re just trying to feed off each other. Me getting 38 without my teammates is almost impossible, especially playing zone. They played zone the whole night. The guys were feeding me. All I can do is just thank them. I was in the zone, but I was in the zone because of my teammates. They truly got me there. They had total confidence in me, total belief in me.”
Holmes and Lofton were the first two Bonnies on the floor for warmups, strictly performing shooting drills under the guidance of assistant coach Tray Woodall. Holmes is the second Bonnie on the current roster to reach a 30-point performance, as Lofton scored 32 in consecutive years his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Schmidt has now witnessed 12 individual performances of 35 or more points since February 2011. Holmes joins Marcus Posley, Jaylen Adams, Andrew Nicholson, Eric Mosley, Courtney Stockard and Matt Mobley in an esteemed group.
“He deserves it. He works his tail off,” Schmidt said of Holmes. “And you want guys that put in the time, you want them to have success. He does everything right academically, socially. He deserves moments like this. Every kid that works his tail off, as a coach you want them to be successful and have moments like that.
“I’m proud of him, and I know his teammates are, of (him) having a night like this. And he should. The time he puts in, the commitment that he has, it shows.”