Jaren Holmes studied the zone defense in front of him, and he listened to his teammates on the St. Bonaventure University men’s basketball team. Then, Holmes made the most of the passes they gave him.
Held to 12 points in the first half, the junior guard from Michigan found his rhythm, and became the focal point of the Bonnies’ offense in the second half.
Holmes scored a season-high 38 points, which included eight 3-pointers, and led the Bonnies to an 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday at the Reilly Center in Allegany.
“My guys kept giving me the ball in the right spots,” said Holmes, who had 10 rebounds for his first double-double this season. “I think I was just doing my job, and my job here at Bonaventure is to hit shots. I think I did that today. It definitely was my night. I felt good going into the game.
“All throughout the timeouts, they just told me, ‘Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep shooting it, keep shooting it, keep shooting it.’ Without them, this is not possible, whatsoever. They were giving me the ball, in perfect spots, right where I like it.”
Holmes and Jalen Adaway combined for 62 of the Bonnies’ 83 points.
Holmes entered the game averaging 8.5 points in the Bonnies’ first four games, and had hit only four 3-pointers so far this season.
“Overall, our ultimate goal was to get the ball into the middle, and in the zone,” Holmes said. “They play an aggressive 2-3 zone (defense). We got the ball in the middle, and I stood on the opposite wing, trying to find the holes in the zone. We were just trying to exploit them, and I was in those spots.”
Adaway, a junior guard who sat out last season after transferring from Miami (Ohio), averaged 8.5 points in Bona’s first four games, and scored a season-high 24 against Saint Joseph’s. Holmes and Adaway picked up the slack on offense for the Bonnies (4-1, 2-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) as Kyle Lofton, Bona’s leading scorer this season, was held to four points, all on free throws. Lofton had 11 assists and eight rebounds, but didn’t score until he hit a pair of free throws with 5:35 left in the second half.
“You don’t want to have one or two or three guys always scoring the basketball,” Bona coach Mark Schmidt said. “The more guys we have scoring, the tougher it is for the opponent to guard us, to scout us. Plus, it gives those guys confidence, especially Jalen, who hasn’t played. Jaren has had some success but Jalen hasn’t. To have a game like this, that should give him a lot more confidence, and we need scoring.”
Taylor Funk and Cameron Brown each scored 13 points for Saint Joseph's (0-8, 0-3), which trailed 16-8 five minutes into the game. But the Bonnies went scoreless for a stretch of more than six minutes, in which they were 0 for 11 from the floor (including 0 for 6 on 3-point attempts) as the Hawks took a 24-17 lead.
Adaway broke the drought with a shot that cut the Hawks’ lead to 24-19 with about seven minutes left in the half, then cut the lead to 24-21 on a layup with 6:53 left, part of an 11-2 run by the Bonnies that helped them to a 32-28 lead at halftime.
“We came out kind of aggressive, but then we kind of relaxed a little bit,” Adaway said of Bona’s first-half drought. “Then, we huddled together and said, ‘We have to be more aggressive against the zone, we can’t let the zone slow us down and our offense down.’ I think we just got a little more comfortable, then started to attack and put more pressure on them. That helped us take the lead at the end of the first half.
Adaway’s dunk opened Bona’s lead to six in the first minute of the second half, but the Hawks again cut Bona’s lead back to one twice in the first four minutes of the second half. Each time, the Bonnies answered – then opened their lead to 43-35, five minutes into the second half, on Dominick Welch’s 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Then, Holmes scored nine of the next 11 points – only interrupted by Funk’s dunk for the Hawks – and gave Bona a 52-37 lead nine minutes into the second half, and Bona led by as many as 27 points.