By Ken Cross
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies entered Tuesday night’s matchup at Davidson with a quiet 18 wins and also a 10-6 Atlantic 10 record that placed them in the upper middle of the conference. They were an athletic team that thrived on the the guard duo of Jaylen Adams, and Matt Mobley. The two average 40.7 points per game and are one of the top five scoring tandems in the nation.
What was appropriate was the tenacity of senior scorer Jack Gibbs, who finished with 29 points in the full 40 minutes on Senior Night, as Davidson took the 68-63 win.
“I felt like we were in solid control most of the game,” said Gibbs, who averages 21.5 points per game and 16.8 for his decorated Wildcats career, “We made some big plays down the stretch and we were able to pull it out, so I am excited about that.”
Gibbs took over right after halftime as he scored 10 points in a row to raise the Wildcats lead to give Davidson a 41-30 lead after the ‘Cats led 29-26 at halftime. He then thrived on the point and played with an electricity that seemed to ignite his teammates.
“I think we have had that kind of intensity most every game this year except for maybe two,” said DC coach Bob McKillop, “When reflecting back, looking at some of those losses, a possession here and a possession there they could have been wins. We are not that far away.”
St. Bonaventure closed to six four times in the mid to late stages of the game. The Wildcats always had the answers. Gibbs on a reverse layup and then an and-one gave the Wildcats a 61-53 lead.
Finally, he and Aldridge knocked down free throws inside of a minute after Adams was able to cut the Wildcats’ lead to three on two different occasions.
“We had to make big plays at big times,” McKillop noted, “We had Peyton making that three on a pass from Jon (Gudmunsson) and we had Jack and Peyton both making foul shots at the end with a lot of guys contributing.”
In addition, Davidson locked down defensively on St. Bonaventure as it held the high-flying offense to 43.4 percent from the floor and allowed Adams and Mobley only a combined 30 points, 11 under their season average, on 9-0f-22 shooting.
“As I am suspecting that they didn’t have a special game plan for Peyton, making it tough for him to get a shot, they did a great job though,” said McKillop of the fact that the Bonnies held Aldridge to 11 points on three-of-five shooting in his 37 minutes, “We had that same mindset in that we respected them. We respected them that anytime they crossed half court..I think our transition defense was pivotal.”
Davidson and Gibbs went out at home with a win against an underrated Atlantic 10 team may have been another confidence booster going into the season finale at Rhode Island and the A-10 Tournament in Pittsburgh next week.
“This team didn’t go out there hoping to win,” said McKillop, “It went out believing it would win. Lots of ups and downs. We were fortunate to get those double digit leads and a mistake here and a mistake there, and a great play by them here and a great play by them there erased it twice.”
Gibbs seemed to have blinked and a stellar four-year basketball career is ending. His career in Belk Arena has ended.
“It went faster than you would expect and it’s always nice to get a conference win when it is your last home game – ever,” he said.