Back in early January, St. Bonaventure grabbed your attention when they opened the Atlantic 10 season with a solid win over Davidson. The Wildcats were the same team that won the conference last year and earned an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
Well, not exactly the same team.
Leading scorer Tyler Kalinoski graduated, but the other three players who averaged in double figures for a balanced Davidson team are still around. The Bonnies must contain Jack Gibbs, Peyton Aldridge and Brian Sullivan if they plan to reach the conference tournament semifinals.
All season, Bona (14-4 in A-10, 22-7 overall) rode its Big Three in Marcus Posley, Dion Wright and Jaylen Adams. They combined for 53.9 points per game this season. But when it comes to top trios, Davidson is the one team in the conference that has an advantage. Gibbs, Aldridge and Sullivan scored 64 points per game, accounting for 80 percent of the offense.
Gibbs led the A-10 in scoring at 24.3 points per game. He’s a good shooter from the perimeter who can also drive the lane when needed. He has 10 games this season in which he scored 30 points or more, including three games in which he scored more than 40. The Bonnies held him to 18 in the first game.
Davidson (19-11), which had a 10-8 record in conference play, is the sixth seed in the A-10 tournament. The Bonnies’ defense starts with Gibbs, but it certainly doesn’t end with him. He had only nine points Thursday night against La Salle. Aldridge had 27, and the Wildcats cruised to a 15-point victory.
Aldridge is a 6-foot-8 forward who will be matched up against Wright inside. He has averaged 20 points over his past seven games. Sullivan is more effective from three-point land than from inside the line. He made two of 10 from the field and buckled under pressure in their last loss, a 70-60 defeat to VCU.
In the first meeting, Davidson was caught off guard by Adams’ improved shooting from the perimeter. The sophomore guard torched the Wildcats for 30 points, including five three-pointers. The word is out about Adams, who was a first-team all-conference selection this season.
Flipped around, and Davidson is equally worried about containing Bona’s guards. Posley broke loose for 47 points against Saint Joseph’s. Wright has been solid all season. He was terrific in defeat last year against Dayton in the A-10 tourney. The Bonnies are the better team going into the conference tourney. They need to play the better game.