College Basketball

Davidson beats La Salle as star lags

It’s not often that Davidson’s men’s basketball team can win when Jack Gibbs is having an off night.

But on Wednesday night, Gibbs’ teammates more than made up for it in a 79-66 Atlantic 10 victory over La Salle at Belk Arena.

Brian Sullivan scored 20 points, Peyton Aldridge had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan Barham added 12 for Davidson (14-8, 6-5), which won its second straight game.

And Gibbs, the nation’s No. 3 scorer at 25.5 points per game?

Gibbs – unable to practice because of finished with eight points, his lowest-scoring game since putting up seven points in an 86-60 loss at California on Dec. 28.

No matter, as the Wildcats shot 58 percent from the field (29 of 50) and made 12 of 24 3-pointers against the short-handed Explorers (5-17, 1-10), who lost their ninth straight game.

“The good news is that Jack doesn’t have a lot of off nights,” Sullivan said. “He draws so much attention, it makes things for guys like me and Peyton, it makes our lives easier.

“We’re a basketball team, it’s not just the Jack Gibbs Show. When one guy doesn’t have his greatest game, the other guys pick him up.”

None more than Sullivan, who hit his first six 3-point attempts, including three straight to open the second half. That pushed what had been a 38-31 halftime lead by Davidson to 47-35 just 70 seconds into the second half.

The Wildcats’ biggest lead, 63-47, came on Jordan Watkins’ 3-pointer with 9:14 remaining. Watkins was one of nine Davidson players to score against La Salle.

“We were able to find people to make shots,” Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. “You got guys all playing and all contributing. It’s very pleasing to see.”

Three who mattered

Brian Sullivan: Made 7 of 11 from the field, and 6 of 9 3-pointers. He also finished with seven assists.

Peyton Aldridge: Had his fourth career double-double, even though he’s been unable to practice. But he also had a team-high six turnovers.

Jordan Barham: Came off the bench for his 11th double-figure scoring game this season. Also pulled down four rebounds.

Observations

▪ La Salle dressed just 10 players for Wednesday’s game, with only seven playing. Still, the Explorers shot 54.3 percent from the field (25 of 46), and 11 of 16 from the free throw line. But they only hit 5 of 13 3-pointers.

▪ What kept La Salle in the game was its aggressive defense, which forced Davidson into 16 turnovers (10 coming off steals), leading to 17 points for the Explorers. The Wildcats had nine turnovers in the first half, with La Salle scoring 15 points off them.

▪ Davidson outrebounded the Explorers 28-18, including an 8-3 advantage on the offensive glass. That gave the Wildcats a 12-6 edge in second-chance points.

▪ While Gibbs wasn’t scoring at his usual clip, he did other things to help Davidson, finishing with seven assists and five rebounds in 31 minutes.

▪ One final interesting stat from Wednesday’s game – Davidson finished with a season-high 24 assists on 29 field goals.

Worth mentioning

▪ Yevgen Sakhniuk came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points for La Salle, 14 points coming in the first half. Jordan Price had 15 and Tony Washington 11.

▪ Gibbs and Price are 1-2 in scoring in the Atlantic 10, entering Wednesday’s game averaging 25.5 and 19.8 points per game, respectively.

▪ The Wildcats go on the road for their next A-10 game, facing George Mason on Saturday. Game time is 4 p.m.

They said it

▪ “We know our system works, and we know in our system we’re going to get open shots. Brian came out hot, and we kept getting him open looks, and he kept knocking them down.” – Aldridge

▪ “We did a really good job of moving (the ball). … When you have different threats that can shoot it out there and you space the floor and guys are unselfish, it leads to pretty efficient shooting.” – Sullivan

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