College Basketball

Short-handed Davidson squad wins 83-79 over Richmond

Wildcat Brian Sullivan (3) celebrates as he scores the basket and is fouled in late second half A-10 men's basketball action at the John M. Belk Arena on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 in Davidson, North Carolina. Sullivan finishes the game with 21 points as Davidson won 83-79.
Wildcat Brian Sullivan (3) celebrates as he scores the basket and is fouled in late second half A-10 men's basketball action at the John M. Belk Arena on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 in Davidson, North Carolina. Sullivan finishes the game with 21 points as Davidson won 83-79. TIM COWIE - DavidsonPhotos.com

Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge and Brian Sullivan looked pretty worn out after Tuesday’s game against Richmond.

No surprise, as Aldridge and Sullivan led a short-handed Wildcats squad to an 83-79 Atlantic 10 victory over the Spiders at Belk Arena.

Never leaving the court Tuesday, Aldridge scored 24 points and Sullivan added 21 for Davidson (15-9, 7-6), which was missing both Jack Gibbs and Jordan Barham because of illness.

“Yeah, I feel a little tired,” Sullivan said. “But Coach (Bob McKillop) brought up that last year; we weren’t expected to win any games. We’re pretty comfortable playing like that.

“There were certainly no expectations for us this game; we probably, definitely expected to lose. So we wanted to let it all out, play free, play fearless, because we had nothing to lose.”

It also helped that Davidson had some of its players step up – Rusty Reigel added a career-high 14 points, and Nathan Ekwu had 12 points and nine rebounds.

That allowed the Wildcats to lead early, and only trail Richmond (14-11, 6-7) 40-37 at the halftime break. Then, an 18-4 run over a six-minute span late in the second half put Davidson ahead 75-66 with 1:58 remaining.

The Spiders rallied, pulling within two points four times over the final 92 seconds, the last at 81-79 with 2.4 seconds remaining.

But ShawnDré Jones missed the back end of two free throws, and Aldridge sank two free throws 1.5 seconds later to seal the win.

Three who mattered

Peyton Aldridge: Shot 9 of 13 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers, and hit four free throws in the final 16 seconds. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.

Brian Sullivan: Scored 15 points in the second half, six coming during that key 18-4 run. Made 7 of 16 from the field, including 5 of 11 3-pointers, and added six assists.

Rusty Reigel: Had his biggest game in a Wildcats uniform, making 6 of 9 from the field, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, grabbing four rebounds and adding three assists.

Observations

▪ With Gibbs, third in the nation in scoring at 24.9 points per game, and Barham (averaging 9.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game) both out with a stomach bug, the Wildcats dressed just nine players Tuesday, and played seven.

▪ The Wildcats finished shooting 53.8 percent (28 of 52) and making 13 of 26 3-pointers, while Richmond shot 51.8 percent (29 of 56) and was 13 of 19 on 3s.

▪ One big difference came at the free-throw line – the Wildcats made 16 of 19 (14 of 17 in the second half), while the Spiders went 14 of 22 (13 of 19 over the final 20 minutes).

▪ Davidson also enjoyed a 33-26 rebounding advantage, but it didn’t help the Wildcats much with scoring inside. Richmond actually outscored the Wildcats in the paint 36-26.

▪ The Spiders’ defense also forced the Wildcats into 12 turnovers, nine coming off steals. Meanwhile, Richmond had just four turnovers.

▪ Davidson made a key defensive adjustment against Spiders forward T.J. Cline in the second half, holding him to just two points over the final 12 minutes.

Worth mentioning

▪ A group of Davidson students sitting at one end of the court had their chests painted with letters spelling out “Viva-Sully!” in honor of Sullivan, the Wildcats’ lone senior starter.

▪ Gibbs has had a rough weekend – he was informed Sunday night that his mother, Aloma, had been diagnosed with cancer, then came down with the stomach bug Monday night.

▪ Cline finished with a game-high 25 points to lead Richmond, with Terry Allen adding 17 and Jones 13.

▪ The Wildcats host St. Joseph’s on Saturday in the second game of their three-game Atlantic 10 home stand. Game time at Belk Arena is 2 p.m.

They said it

“They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, and had every opportunity to do that with the injuries, the sickness, the loss to George Mason in such a heartbreaking way Saturday. For our guys to respond like this, with their back to the wall, I couldn’t be more pleased.” – McKillop.

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