College Basketball

Davidson overcomes flat first half, tops George Washington 65-63 in Atlantic 10

The Davidson Wildcats needed a lift Wednesday and Jordan Barham was there to provide it.

Barham scored all 15 of his points in the second half to help Davidson to a 65-63 victory against George Washington at the Smith Center.

With his team trailing 31-23 at halftime, Barham scored eight points in an early 10-0 run that allowed Davidson (18-6, 9-4) to regain control of a game that had slipped from its grasp. It was the Wildcats’ fourth consecutive victory.

Barham played just four minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls.

“I don’t think I was trying to provide a lift as much as I saw what was there and just took it,” said Barham, a 6-foot-4 junior guard. “I didn’t force anything.”

The Wildcats, who are tied for fourth in the A-10 and one game behind co-leaders Virginia Commonwealth and Rhode Island, were held to those 23 points (a season low) and 27.3 percent shooting in the first half. The Wildcats also were 5-of-21 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes.

“I was concerned, but I wasn’t unhappy because were taking good shots – they just weren’t going in,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “In the end, it was a gritty, tough win for us.”

The Wildcats had to withstand a final possession that might have tied the game or won it for the Colonials (17-9, 7-6).

After Davidson’s Brian Sullivan was called for a backcourt violation, George Washington’s Kethan Savage – who was hounded by two defenders – missed a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

The Wildcats took an early 16-11 lead before things fell apart for them for the remainder of the first half. The Colonials clamped down defensively, holding the Wildcats scoreless for nearly seven minutes and outscoring them 20-7 down the stretch.

Barham, in foul trouble, watched most of that from the bench. With his team’s long-range shooting not working, his ability to get to the basket to start the second half changed the game. He also had seven rebounds and an assist.

“I think this was Jordan’s best and most complete game at Davidson,” said McKillop. “It was also the other things he did that made us better. He had the spotlight, but he also spread the spotlight around.”

Sullivan added 12 points, and guard Tyler Kalinolski scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds.

The game marked the return of sophomore guard Jack Gibbs, Davidson’s leading scorer who had missed seven games with a knee injury. Gibbs entered the game with 16 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half and quickly hit two 3-pointers. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

“It was tough being out for so long,” said Gibbs. “But it would have been tougher if we’d been losing. I’m here to give some energy and make people smile.”

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Twitter: @davidscott14