College Basketball

Davidson struggles in first-round NIT loss to FSU

Davidson leading scorer Jack Gibbs thought at some point his shots would drop and at some point the Wildcats could make a run.

Unfortunately for Gibbs, that time never came as Davidson’s offense struggled to connect and simultaneously guard against Florida State in the first round of the NIT. Gibbs, a junior averaging 24 points per game — good for fifth in the nation — was limited to just three first-half points and didn’t score again until late in the second half, and Davidson fell 84-74 to FSU on Tuesday night at the Tucker Civic Center in front of 2,496.

“Sometimes you have games where your shots don’t fall,” Gibbs said. “When games like that happen you have to try to make your impact in other ways on the court, whether that’s defense or play-making. They’re a good team, a big team, an athletic team, and that’s very tough to play. Especially a road game, a good environment today. It was just a tough game (against) a good team.”

Meanwhile, FSU’s talented freshman duo of Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley put the game away late in the second half, turning a six-point game at the 8-minute mark into a runaway. Bacon and Beasley became FSU’s first freshmen in school history to score 500 points in a season.

“They’re pretty darn big and pretty darn athletic,” Wildcats head coach Bob McKillop said. “They’re spoken about in NBA circles as being future NBA players. They’re really good.” Bacon and Beasley scored 35 of their 44 combined points in the second half as FSU (20-13) advanced to the second round, potentially at No. 1 seed Valparaiso. Davidson’s season ends at 20-13.

“I’m very proud of our players, our program, our staff, our guys,” McKillop said. “They had a wonderful year. In this last game, they left everything out on the court. They gave a tremendous 40 minutes of effort and toughness. They fought from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They’re a joy to coach and I’ll miss the seniors very much.”

Three who mattered

Dwayne Bacon: The FSU freshman scored a game-high 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He grabbed five rebounds and sank 9 of 10 shots from the free throw line while attacking the basket in the second half.

Malik Beasley: The second half of the Seminoles’ dynamic duo, Beasley also hit 7 of 14 shots while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. He was perfect from deep (3 for 3) and from the charity stripe (4 for 4), totaling 21 points.

Peyton Aldridge: He scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4 of 6 from the perimeter. He also led the Wildcats in rebounds (6), assists (4) and blocks (2).

Observations

Jack Gibbs was 1 for 7 on FGs in the first half. His lone make was a transition 3-pointer (1 for 5) at the 5:25 mark of the first half. He hit two free throws with six minutes left in the second half, then hit a second 3 with 1:30 remaining, jump-starting his 17-point night.

FSU’s largest first-half lead was eight points before Davidson closed to four. The largest lead for the Seminoles in the second half was 15 with 3:21 left in regulation.

The Seminoles are guard-centric, but it was FSU’s big men that helped the most. Utilizing several pick-and-rolls, FSU got 6-9 Jarquez Smith and 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky involved in the paint for easy dunks and slips. The pair combined for 16 points and nine rebounds.

The Wildcats were 13 of 33 shooting from 3-point range. If not for Brian Sullivan’s second 3-pointer of the first half – with 34 seconds left before the break – Davidson may have been in worse shape than a 30-26 deficit. Sullivan finished with 13 points.

Davidson was out-rebounded 44-28 on the night. The Seminoles had an 11-5 edge in offensive rebounds. Beasley led FSU with nine boards.

Worth mentioning

Brian Sullivan was 3 for 7 from deep, giving him 50 consecutive games with a 3. It’s the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Troy’s Wesley Person (59).

FSU has won the only two meetings between the schools, the previous victory coming in 2002 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic, 82-66.

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