Offense is what the Davidson Wildcats are known for, and that’s what kept their season alive Thursday.
In a matchup of the eight and nine seeds at the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament, a 49-point first half and 19-point lead early in the second half weren’t enough for No. 9 Davidson to roll smoothly to a second-round victory. Instead, the Wildcats held off a prolonged push by the No. 8 Explorers for a 82-73 win.
Davidson took an early lead thanks to 6-foot-8 junior forward Peyton Aldridge, who scored 10 of his team’s first 13 points.
The Wildcats withstood a 14-2 Explorers’ run midway through the first half, entering halftime with a 49-34 lead.
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La Salle (15-15) had another major run left. While the Philadelphia school wouldn’t lead again, it used a 24-8 surge to close the deficit to a possession with four and a half minutes remaining.
As it did in the first half, when La Salle regained the lead only to lose it seconds later, Davidson (16-14) responded quickly and pulled away to secure the win.
Next for the Wildcats is a quarterfinal Friday at noon against No.1 seed Dayton. In the teams’ only meeting this season on Feb. 24 at Davidson, Dayton won 89-82 in overtime.
Three who mattered
Aldridge: He played the entire game and scored a game-high 33 points, an arena record, including three 3-pointers, and added 10 rebounds.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Wildcats’ senior guard had 18 points after going 6-for-15 from the field to provide support for Aldridge.
B.J Johnson, La Salle: He scored four points in the opening period but helped key the Explorers’ late run with 11 of his 19 points.
▪ La Salle’s 3-point shooting kept it in the game early. The Explorers made 7 of 10 long-range attempts in the first half and went 3-for-11 from there after halftime.
▪ Speed Davidson up too fast and turnovers will follow. The Wildcats had 14 turnovers, 11 committed in the second half, nine during La Salle’s big run.
▪ When Davidson’s offensive production slowed in the second half, how it scored didn’t, as seven of its eight made field goals in the second half came off assists. ...Twenty three of Davidson’s 27 makes were assisted, tying the season high.
▪ Davidson freshman John Axel Gudmundsson scored a career-high 16 points, with 12 coming in first half. He made four of his five 3-pointers.
▪ Davidson is 3-0 all-time against La Salle in the A-10 tournament. The Wildcats joined the league before the 2014 season.
They said it
▪ “It’s like a Broadway production. You practice dance steps and then you put it all together, and music goes on, and the dance looks wonderful.” – Coach Bob McKillop on his team’s offensive flow in first half, which resulted in 16 assists on 19 made field goals.