The tone was established early.
Davidson turned the ball over on its first two possessions Saturday, succumbing to Virginia Commonwealth University’s relentless pressure. It was just the start of a long afternoon for the Wildcats.
“They came and kind of had the first punch, sent us back and they were the attackers,” Brian Sullivan said. “I thought we did a good job staying in the game and fighting back, and I think we cut it close with a couple of minutes left in the first half, and we were right there. And they just kept coming. It just seems like they were too much.”
Second-seeded VCU was indeed too deep, too athletic and too fast for sixth-seeded Wildcats. Davidson just couldn’t match up with the Rams, falling 76-54 in their Atlantic 10 Basketball Championship semifinal at the Barclays Center.
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VCU (24-9) will meet fourth-seeded Saint Joseph’s (26-7) Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. championship game.
With its dreams of making the NCAA Tournament dashed, Davidson (20-12) can only hope it receives a bid to the NIT.
Three who mattered
Brian Sullivan: He was really the only one able to muster anything of significance offensively for Davidson. He made 6 of 13 shots and finished with 15 points.
Korey Billbury: His smooth stroke was on full display, going 3 of 5 from three-point range and 7 of 15 from the floor overall. He had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Rams.
Mo Alie-Cox: The big man pounded his way to 13 points on 4 of 6 shooting and had a nifty alley-oop that ignited a thunderous roar from the VCU faithful in attendance.
▪ Playing three games in three nights finally caught up to the Wildcats and they struggled to consistently keep up with VCU. Though the Wildcats closed within three with 5:01 left in the first half, that’s as close as they got and they never really threatened VCU, trailing by as many as 30 points in the second half.
▪ VCU refused to let Jack Gibbs get going. Davidson’s leading scorer was bottled up and never had much breathing room, making 2 of 13 attempts and finishing with four points, four turnovers and three steals in 27 minutes.
▪ In what could be his final college game, Brian Sullivan preserved his impressive three-point streak. His shot from long distance with 5:01 remaining in the first half marked the 49th straight game he’s hit one, which is the second-longest streak in the country behind the 59 of Troy’s Wesley Person Jr.
▪ VCU has played in the A-10 championship game in each of the four seasons it’s been in the league since joining the conference in 2012.
They said it
▪ “We just wanted to contain him. … He’s a great player, great shooter. So it’s like cutting the head off a snake. You take him out, it puts us in a good spot.” – VCU’s JeQuan Lewis on the game plan for Jack Gibbs.
▪ “I think you can catch up with the way we play because we can shoot the three. But we weren’t making the three. And you live and die by the three. … We will always try to live by it.” – Bob McKillop