Preseason All-Atlantic Ten and St. Bonaventure guard Kyle Lofton stepped to the free-throw line with 5 minutes, 35 seconds left in the second half. He sank both free throws for his first points of the game.
If you had been told St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer and one of the top guards in the A-10 would be held scoreless for more than 34 minutes, you’d probably think St. Joseph’s was winning, or at least losing by single digits. Instead, the Hawks were down 19, and the result was pretty much decided.
A career-high 38 points from Jaren Holmes led the Bonnies to an 83-57 win over the visiting Hawks at the Reilly Center.
“St. Bonaventure is arguably the most talented, experienced, athletic group in our conference,” Hawks head coach Billy Lange said.
Both teams had hot streaks in the first half. St. Bonaventure started the game shooting 5 of 6 and forced the Hawks into an early timeout. St. Joe’s (0-8, 0-3 A-10) responded with a 16-1 run. The Bonnies led, 32-28, at halftime.
The Hawks trailed, 34-33, after a Cameron Brown layup, but it was all St. Bonaventure (4-1, 2-1 A-10) after that as Holmes led an 18-4 run.
St. Joe’s challenged the Bonnies to shoot threes with a zone defense. St. Bonaventure, which entered Wednesday’s game shooting 28.6% from three, made 10 of 23 three-pointers. Eight came from Holmes.
Outside of the early scoring run, St. Joe’s struggled on offense. The Hawks went 10-for-34 from three and shot just 37% overall. Brown and Taylor Funk led the way with 13 points. Jordan Hall finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
“In the first half we didn’t make a ton of shots, but we had a consistent enough scoring that helped our defense,” Lange said. “In the second half, the guys did a lot of good things but didn’t get a lot of good results.”
Things weren’t much better defensively. The Bonnies became the eighth straight team to score more than 80 points against the Hawks. That streak seemed destined to end after the first half, but the Bonnies scored 51 points in the second half.
Guards Greg Foster and Ryan Daly did not play for St. Joe’s. Daly continues to nurse a wrist injury. Foster missed Sunday’s game against Rhode Island and Wednesday’s contest for personal reasons. Lange said that there is no update on both players going forward.
There are two ways to look at the Hawks 0-8 start. One, the Hawks are on pace to finish worse than last season’s 6-26 record. The other is the Hawks are a few missed free throws away at Drexel, Auburn and Rhode Island from having a 3-5 record, plus the inconsistent availability of key players. Lange is choosing the latter option, hoping it translates to wins soon.