College Basketball

Davidson Wildcats up to third in Atlantic 10 with win over Fordham

Fordham's Bryan Smith (24) tries to inbound the ball against a leaping Jordan Barham (5) of Davidson during the second half of A-10 men's basketball action at John M. Belk Arena on Saturday, February 21, 2015 in Davidson, North Carolina. Davidson beats Fordham 76 to 57.
Fordham's Bryan Smith (24) tries to inbound the ball against a leaping Jordan Barham (5) of Davidson during the second half of A-10 men's basketball action at John M. Belk Arena on Saturday, February 21, 2015 in Davidson, North Carolina. Davidson beats Fordham 76 to 57. TIM COWIE - DavidsonPhotos.com

The Davidson Wildcats continued to inch their way up the Atlantic 10 standings with a 76-57 college basketball victory Saturday against Fordham at Belk Arena.

And after winning their fifth consecutive game, there’s not much farther for the Wildcats (19-6, 10-4) to go in the 14-team league. Davidson is now tied for third with Dayton, one game behind co-leaders Rhode Island and Virginia Commonwealth – two teams the Wildcats will face over the next 10 days.

Davidson coach Bob McKillop, however, wasn’t interested in that.

“I don’t think about that stuff,” said McKillop, who wanted to keep the focus on how the Wildcats dominated a Fordham (8-17, 3-11) team that, despite its poor record, has shown life recently and had won three of four coming into the game.

“It was a consistent performance for us both offensively and defensively, as well as ball distribution,” said McKillop, whose team shot 50 percent from the field on 17 assists.

The Wildcats held the Rams to 37.7 percent shooting (the second consecutive game they have done that after limiting George Washington to 36.7 percent Wednesday).

Davidson got double-figure scoring from five players, led by guard Brian Sullivan’s 18. Guard Jack Gibbs, playing his second game after missing seven with a knee injury, added 17, with Tyler Kalinoski scoring 14, Oskar Michelsen 12 and Jordan Barham 10. Barham also had nine rebounds as Davidson outscored Fordham 36-20 in the paint.

“We didn’t rush anything,” said Kalinoski, who also made two-of-three 3-pointers and had six rebounds. “We took good shots and made them defend. In this offense, the way we run it, there are a lot of reads and we’re constantly moving and cutting. That wears teams down. We swing the ball and if (the defense) makes one mistake, we’ll get an easy basket.”

McKillop said the team had two good days of practice after Wednesday’s victory at George Washington, when the Wildcats shot 40.9 percent, including 27.3 percent in the first half.

“They’re free to shoot, they have a license to shoot and an expectation to shoot,” said McKillop. “The players trust me and that’s pivotal in any player-coach relationship. They earn my confidence in how they practice. It doesn’t just happen. That’s a great thing.”

The Wildcats trailed just once against Fordham, 5-4 in the early going, but erased that with a 10-0 run. After that, Davidson gradually built on the lead, going up by as many as 24 with 4 minutes, 14 seconds remaining.

Davidson got a boost from Gibbs, Davidson’s leading scorer who returned Wednesday, where he played 14 minutes and scored 11 points off the bench. He started against the Rams, making seven-of-13 shots and handing out three assists in 23 minutes.

“The biggest adjustment (coming back) was getting my wind back under me,” said Gibbs. “I ran on the treadmill, but that’s not the same. But I’m getting there.”

Davidson was without freshman guard Jordan Watkins, who hurt his shoulder against George Washington. McKillop said X-rays were negative.

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