Fierce A-10 Test Awaits Bonnies Saturday Morning At Rhode Island

Fierce A-10 Test Awaits Bonnies Saturday Morning At Rhode Island

St. Bonaventure Men's Basketball Game Preview: Rhode Island Rams

Date: Saturday, Jan. 13
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Kingston, R.I.  |  Ryan Center

Records (A-10)

St. Bonaventure 12-4 (2-2)  |  Rhode Island 12-3 (4-0)
Bonnies Statistics   |   URI Statistics

TV: ESPNU
Radio: WPIG 95.7 FM with Gary Nease
Twitter: @BonniesMBB

Complete Game Notes (PDF)

OPENING TIP
Saturday morning in a special 11 a.m. start time on ESPNU, St. Bonaventure visits Rhode Island for the first of two meetings with the Rams this season. The game pits the two teams picked 1-2 in the preseason Atlantic 10 poll.

BONA-NOTEWORTHY
•  The Rhode Island trip is the third game a very challenging stretch that has St. Bonaventure on the road for four out of five A-10 games.
•  After two uncharacteristic games last week, the Bonnies got back to the kind defense they played most of the season in Wednesday's win over Fordham. The Bonnies lead the A-10 in field goal percentage defense (.411) and three-point defense (.295) and are fourth in scoring defense (68.1 ppg). St. Bonaventure is 11th nationally in three-point defense.
•  Senior point guard Jaylen Adams has earned A-10 Player of the Week honors three times already this year. He leads St. Bonaventure in scoring (18.5 points per game), assists (5.5) and three-point shooting (.522). Already one of the most accomplished players in the program's history, Adams was on the preseason watch list for three national player of the year awards: the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Award and the Naismith Trophy.
• Adams' backcourt partner Matt Mobley is averaging 17.0 points per game; combined, the duo average 35.5 points per game and are shooting .400 from three-point range. Both Mobley and Adams were named to the A-10 preseason all-conference first team.
• Junior forward LaDarien Griffin averaged 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds last season. This year, he is at 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. In the win over Fordham, the 6-6 Griffin posted career highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
•  Courtney Stockard's story is much more than just a game-winner against Maryland. The 22-year old redshirt junior missed the last two seasons due to foot injuries, leaving his career in doubt. He persevered, though, and is averaging 11 points per game off the bench.
• Another young guard who is showing his potential is freshman Izaiah Brockington, who averaged 13.0 points over two games last week, including 16 points at Saint Joseph's.
• St. Bonaventure is 27-13 in A-10 games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Rhode Island Notes:
• The Rams are off to a 4-0 start to the Atlantic 10 season and have won seven games in a row overall. The Rams have topped George Mason, La Salle, George Washington and Saint Louis. The win at SLU was on Wednesday by a 72-65 final. Forward Andre Berry led URI with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
•  Coach Dan Hurley's team, which was picked to win the A-10 in the preseason poll, is 9-0 on its home floor.
•  URI's heralded guard group features leading scorer Jared Terrell (17.9 points per game), swingman E.C. Matthews (13.6 ppg), Stanford Robinson (9.8) and point guard Jeff Dowtin (8.3). Dowtin has 76 assists and 17 turnovers.
•  Like St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island is a veteran club with two fifth-year seniors, Matthews and Robinson, and seniors Terrell, Berry and Jarvis Garrett among its top players.

St. Bonaventure vs. Rhode Island: The Last Meeting
March 10, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena: URI 74, Bonnies 63
The run for St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 Tournament came to an end. After a first half that saw Rhode Island continually get to the line and throw the Bonnies into foul trouble, Bona responded with a quick run after intermission to grab the lead. Rhode Island went just 6-for-16 at the charity stripe during the first half, allowing the Bonnies to keep within a 32-26 score at halftime. St. Bonaventure made the Rams pay for that early on in the second stanza, embarking on a 9-2 break to take its first lead of the day, 35-34, with 16:55 to play. Unfortunately for the Bonnies, Rhode Island immediately responded with a run of its own, erasing the momentum for the Brown and White. The Rams would go on to win the A-10 Tournament crown.

Series Notes
This will be the 68th meeting between the Atlantic 10 rivals. Rhode Island has a 40-27 lead in the series and won both meetings last season.

Backcourt Reunited
All-America candidate Jaylen Adams missed the first six games of the season due to a sprained left ankle which he suffered in the exhibition game against Alfred (N.Y.) on Nov. 4. That meant the Bonnies' dynamic backcourt duo had to wait until Dec. 2 to be reunited. Now with 10 games back together, the Adams-Matt Mobley pairing has started to look and perform like they did last season. Dec. 30, they combined for 60 points -- the most they have scored in one game together -- in a home win over UMass.
Adams & Mobley Statistics:
PPG                 Assists            Steals            3-PT%           FT%
35.5                  8.4                  2.6                .400          .853

Three-Point Efficiency Soars
As expected, Jaylen Adams' return to the lineup has helped the Bonnies' three-point shooting. The past eight games, St. Bonaventure made 55 of 131 attempts (42 percent) from behind the arc. The hot streak has improved the team's three-point percentage to .383 for the season, which leads the Atlantic 10 Conference. 

Experienced Lineup
Experience certainly can help a team win in college basketball and the Bonnies have plenty of it. Combined, seniors Idris Taqqee (106), Matt Mobley (109) and Jaylen Adams (91) have played in 306 career games. Sixty-one of Mobley's games were at Central Connecticut State. 

Getting It Done With Defense
The team's motto during the pre-season was "Let's Get To It" -- a reference to the work required in order to meet high expectations. This season, that term also applies to the Bonnies' commitment to defense.
• The Bonnies lead the A-10 in both field goal percentage defense (.411) and three-point defense (.295). They are 11th nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense.
• St. Bonaventure is fourth in the A-10 in scoring defense (68.1 ppg).
• The Bonnies also rank 20th nationally with a +4.1 turnover margin.
• St. Bonaventure has held 10 of its 16 opponents under 68 points including Maryland (61) and Syracuse (57 in overtime game).
• Seven times, St. Bonaventure has limited its opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field including 30 percent by Syracuse.

Stockard Back After Two Years And Playing Inspired 
Entering the season, no player on the roster would have been more accurately described as the "X Factor" than Courtney Stockard. That is because the 6-6 wing missed all of the past two seasons due to a broken bone in his foot. He first broke it in the fall of 2015, then re-injured the same bone in the same foot in the first official practice of 2016. During his two years on the sidelines, the St. Louis native became well-versed in the Bonnies' playbook and what the coaches expect. That knowledge is showing up on the court. Now a 22-year-old redshirt junior, Stockard is third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.4 points per game, and also is second in rebounding at 5.5 per game. He has scored in double figures eight times in his 14 games. He scored 14 points against Maryland and 16 against TCU, topped by a highlight-reel moment, the game-winning bucket against Maryland with 3.2 seconds left. Stockard's top moment, however, was the charge he drew in the waning seconds of overtime at Syracuse. With the Bonnies clinging to a 58-57 lead, Stockard stepped in front of a driving Oshae Brissett and got the call with 12 seconds left. In A-10 play, Stockard has scored in double figures three times in four games including a career high 17 points at Saint Joseph's.

Griffin Making Most Of Opportunity
LaDarien Griffin's journey to becoming a regular contributor is similar to many past St. Bonaventure players. He started out raw and had to earn his way into the rotation. The first part of his maturation was to become stronger. He added 150 pounds of muscle to his 6-6 frame, now at 215 lbs. Griffin also worked to improve his shooting and ballhandling. His freshman season, Griffin played in only 11 games, scoring a total of six points. Last season, he earned time in 29 games and averaged 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. This year, Griffin has started every game. He leads the Bonnies and ranks seventh in the A-10 in rebounding at 7.1 per game. Griffin has three double-doubles, most recently Jan. 10 vs. Fordham when he set career highs with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

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