Wild American Gooner

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Davidson’s Star Trio

(Written for today’s NCAA Tournament Preview edition of The Davidsonian. I will be traveling to the NCAA Tournament tomorrow morning to cover Davidson and the other games in Seattle. For updates, check the site and follow me on Twitter @Klaus_Faust)

Before the season ever began, Coach Bob McKillop was singing the praises of his new captains, guards Tyler Kalinoski ’15, Brian Sullivan ’16 and Jack Gibbs ’17 and the work they had done in keeping the team on task in the offseason. But despite lofty expectations from their coach – though certainly not from the national media – it’s safe to say any and all expectations within the program were broken by the trio this year.

“We’re built around those three guys,” fellow starter Jordan Barham ’16 said of the three guards, “All three of them are such good all-around basketball players. There’s not one thing you can really take away [as a defense]. Teams in the A-10 will try to run them off the three-point line and they’ll go by their guys and get to the rim. You’ll try to go off a ball screen, and they’ll hit a three.”

The offense starts with the three captains, who were each named to all-conference teams last week. They’ve been at the forefront of everything Davidson has done, always directing play on the court and making winning plays.

Kalinoski has mainly played off the ball, excelling in his senior year on the offensive end on his way to being named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Playing almost every minute, he was in double-figures in scoring every single conference game. But where he has made his mark has been with his composure and his ability to ignite second-half runs with his shooting and his defense. He’s shooting above 43% from deep and has knocked down shot after shot on his way to average 17 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 4.1 assists.

Sullivan’s season didn’t start the way he wanted shooting the ball from deep. But amidst those struggles came a better defender and a better passer. He became so much more than just a three-point shooter because he had to contribute elsewhere. So by the time he found his stroke, he was a much more complete player. When Gibbs went down with an injury, it was Sullivan who took over at the point, and his play helped ignite Davidson’s 10-game win streak to close out conference play.

Despite a knee injury that sidelined him for seven games during conference play, Gibbs is having a sensational leap scoring wise as the primary point guard, highlighted by a 37 point effort at UCF. It’s as if he’s gained half a step from a year ago. In transition, he has been lethal, seemingly always picking the right option. And his shooting percentages have increased dramatically, up from 32% a year ago to 44% this year from deep.

Davidson’s offense was peaking right when Gibbs went down before the Dayton game. But with Sullivan sliding over and Kalinoski taking on more ball-handling duties, the Wildcats didn’t lose a beat.

“I think Brian and Ty especially, with Jack being down, really made a concerted effort to keep guys accountable and lead by example and by the way they were playing,” Barham said. “I think everyone just bought in. Jack, being on the sidelines coaching people up, really helped. The three of those guys are so key to this team in so many different aspects even aside from their play on the court.”

Spacing wise, having all three of them on the court at the same time, which McKillop does most of the time, gives opponents nightmares. They can’t focus on one or two of them, because the other will go off. Teams have tried zones, they’ve tried man, but the games when opponents have shut down all three have been few and far between.

Their threat on the perimeter gives the offense many more options in the halfcourt in Davidson’s motion and screen heavy offense. Because defenders must remain tight on the guards coming off screens, it leaves them susceptible to back-cuts and drives from Barham, who in particular has benefitted from the attention the guards receive on the perimeter. Most shooters don’t like to screen, but these guys do that too.

As a team, Davidson ranks 8th in the nation in offense efficiency behind the three guards, up from 35th a year ago. Sure, the team is shooting slightly better this year, but the main difference has been impeccable ball control. Last year, Davidson ranked 64th nationally in turnover percentage. This year, they are second, behind only Wisconsin.

All three of this trio have stepped up to hit shots that kept the Wildcats’ season alive. Think back to a trip to George Mason, when Gibbs was out, when Sullivan sent the game to overtime with a contested three, just seconds after Oskar Michelsen ’18 had made one to cut the deficit to three. Or on the road at URI, when Gibbs hit a go-ahead step-back three in the corner to give the Wildcats the lead after a rough night of shooting. Or in the A-10 quarterfinal, after making a couple big triples down the stretch, Kalinoski had the presence of mind to drive to the hoop and lay in a winning basket as time expired against La Salle.

Had they missed those shots, those would have been costly losses. But these three have proven game after game that they have the utmost confidence in themselves and in their teammates. That is what you want from captains. You want stars on the court who can lead by example with consistently superb play. But you also want those who want their teammates to succeed, setting them up on the court with assists and off the court with steadfast commitment and leadership.

It is rare to see the three-guard system work so effectively in college basketball. But Kalinoski, Sullivan and Gibbs have found ways to complement each other in every fashion. Together, they’ve been the engine behind Davidson’s remarkable season.


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Clutch Genes Prevail Again

The good feeling surrounding Davidson basketball is swelling to immeasurable heights right now. Everybody is talking about how Bob McKillop is doing his best coaching job yet. National media have been catapulting on recent wins to write about how underrated a program this Davidson has and how remarkable the transition has been to the A-10. They’re writing about how this is a team that defies expectations – every single article mentions that this was a team picked 12th in the conference preseason.

But it’s time to forget expectations and legacy and start appreciating them as a basketball team right now. Today’s win against La Salle in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament was not pretty. But the beauty of this win – marked by senior captain Tyler Kalinoski’s buzzer-beater – was in how ugly it was. It was a win that highlighted this team’s strengths, but pointed out its flaws too. In the end, it was Davidson’s ruthlessness in the final minutes that made the difference.

The cynics will say this game showed Davidson’s over-reliance on the three-ball, especially in the second half. but I don’t think that is an issue. It felt like the Wildcats shot the ball poorly, yet they made 14 threes on 40% shooting from deep. They weren’t forced threes – they were all good looks in rhythm with the offense. But don’t forget Barham’s early buckets that kept the game close, or that when given the option to shoot a three on the final possession, Kalinoski drove the ball to the hoop. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this team is one-dimensional offensively. Anyone who says that clearly hasn’t watched a McKillop offense very closely.

Nonetheless, one of the best aspects of Jack Gibbs, Brian Sullivan and Kalinoski shooting so many threes is that Davidson is never out of the game, not even down 18 in a high-pressure environment like this or down double digits with only six minutes left. The tri-captains are always one or two made shots from catching fire and turning momentum around. For me, aside from the last couple minutes, the biggest sequence in today’s game came right at the end of the first half, when Sullivan made back-to-back triples to cut the lead to single-digits at halftime. Davidson had been getting killed, but those shots gave the ‘Cats life and hope.

What I admire most about this team is the way they elevate their play in the final minutes. That sounds cliche, but think back to all the times Davidson has made plays down the stretch. There were made free-throws against UMass in the first road win. Down 6 with 14 seconds left at George Mason, Oskar Michelsen and Sullivan made threes to send it into OT, where Davidson won without Gibbs and a fouled-out Kalinoski. Down 10 in the first half at GW, and needing one final stop to seal the deal, Davidson got it. There was Gibbs’s contested three at URI to get a one-point lead with 13 seconds left and great ensuing defense. And even in the loss to St. Bonaventure, a perfectly executed play led to a Peyton Aldridge three that gave Davidson a one-point lead with 3 seconds left.

That leads us to today, when Coach Bob McKillop trusted his team enough in the final seconds not to call a timeout. He knew his players would make the right choices and trust the system they are so committed to. It doesn’t matter who gets the shot, because there are no heroes. This time it was Kalinoski, but tomorrow it could just as easily be Sullivan or Gibbs getting the call. How many teams have so many options at the end of a game? And how many teams come through as often as Davidson has this year? I can tell you the answer is nobody. That will prove to be useful in the coming games.

Not to be lost either is Davidson’s defense in the final minutes. Everyone stepped up and guarded. I am continually impressed by how much this team has improved on the defensive end. Sure, the first 36 minutes were ugly, but in the final four, they were locked in.

The night before the team left for Brooklyn, I sat down for an interview with Barham (be on the lookout for related content in Wednesday’s Davidsonian). He talked about how everyone is in complete control in the final minutes. It doesn’t matter how the rest of the game has gone, if you get a shot in the final minute on this team, you’re going to have the confidence to take it.

But it wasn’t all good in Brooklyn today. Davidson got crushed on the boards. Steve Zack had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Explorers at the center position. In the first half, the Wildcats had no answer for him defensively. It may seem obvious to say Davidson will struggle if they have to face a premier center. But it’s a fact. Barham may be able to guard almost everyone on the court, but he won’t be able to handle a Frank Kaminsky or a Bobby Portis if it comes to that.

Andrew McAuliffe provided some good minutes defensively as a backup big, but he offers next to nothing offensively (in 18 minutes, he didn’t attempt a shot) and extended minutes from him hurt what Davidson does offensively. With him on the floor in the second half, La Salle backed off him and caused issues spacing-wise for Davidson’s normally seamless offense. That was partly the cause for the excess number of threes taken.

Today officially felt like March. The madness has arrived. But one thing we can all be sure about is that amidst the madness, Davidson will be as cool as the other side of the pillow. Nothing can faze this team. I am glad VCU beat Richmond because I think Richmond would have posed a much tougher matchup. Shake Smart had no answers 8 days ago when these sides met in Davidson, but expect a closer game this time with Treveon Graham more involved. With another shootaround to get used to the Barclays Center rims, I think Davidson will get another win. But it should be a good one. And hey, at least I won’t have to watch this one while in class.


Davidson States Intent, Destroys VCU

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

In what was perhaps the biggest home game in the history of Belk Arena, Davidson (22-6, 13-4 in A-10) put on a show in front of a capacity crowd and nationally televised audience, throttling conference-power VCU (21-9, 11-6 in A-10) 82-55. It was the Wildcats’ strongest statement of intent yet that this is a team that deserves a bid to the NCAA Tournament. As the clock wore down, fans got a chance to salute this team one final team for an incredible season.

Picked 12th out of 14th in the Atlantic 10 by the coaches preseason, and thought by many to be too small and not tough enough to even win a game in the new conference, the Wildcats are now one win away from winning a conference championship. A win on the road at Duquesne on Saturday night would seal it. Bob McKillop and his bunch of “Southern Conference quality players” have sure quieted all the doubters. A media room that was three people strong at the start of the year is now filled with national reporters who can’t help but take notice.

“I don’t remember where we picked them in the opening poll, but it wasn’t twelfth” VCU coach Shaka Smart said postgame, “Coach [McKillop] has done a great job. He has these guys playing with a very good fluidity. The way they pass the ball and share the ball and get each other shots is really impressive.”

Never trailing, Davidson used two large runs in the first half to build a 20-point lead before Shaka Smart’s disbelieving eyes. The Wildcats were knocking down shots and feeding off of the energy from the sold-out crowd as they forced turnovers and got out in transition from the get-go. Davidson kept the lead around 22 for much of the second half as they kept VCU from gaining even the slightest bit of momentum. The Wildcats held VCU to a lone three pointer, and forced 16 turnovers.

On his senior night, Tyler Kalinoski ’15 showed why many believe he should win the Atlantic 10 player of the year award with a stellar performance. Ever composed, Kalinoski was a steady outlet against VCU’s press and was everywhere on the defensive end, grabbing loose balls and even stepping in for a charge. And offensively, he was as good as ever, knocking down tough shots and finding cutters in the lane. On his final night in Belk Arena, Kalinoski finished with 22 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. After bloodying up his jersey, the senior completed the game with number 20 on his back. But it’s safe to say Wildcat fans will never forget number four and all he did for leading the program through this tough, transitional phase.

Davidson held Treveon Graham, the presumed favorite for Atlantic 10 player of the year, to a single rebound and a single turnover on the stat sheet in the first half. Graham’s first points didn’t come until two minutes after halftime. The VCU senior finished with 4 points on 2-7 shooting. After showing his versatility by guarding big men for much of the conference season, Jordan Barham ’16 was locked in defending Graham on the perimeter, shutting him down.

Barham did a little bit of everything tonight. When he wasn’t nose-to-nose with Graham on the defensive end, he was finishing plays at the rim and soaring for rebounds. Tonight, he grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with 13 points on 6-9 shooting. Barham’s improvement this year has been huge for this team, as he has given the team a vital second option on both ends of the floor.

Jack Gibbs ’17, the reigning A-10 player of the week, also baffled the VCU defense. He was at the center of just about every big play, whether it was knocking down shots or creating just enough space to thread the ball through to a cutter. Gibbs filled out the stat sheet with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 8 asssists.

Gibbs’s backcourt mate Brian Sullivan ’16 continued his hot streak of play with another stellar showing from behind the arc, scoring all 11 of his points in the first half. He has now hit three or more triples in six of the last eight contests. But beyond his marksmanship, the junior deserves credit for his ball-handling and his defensive work tonight. No matter the stage, Sullivan wants the ball. But he has become so much more than just a shooter this year.

“[My players] shock me everyday,” Coach McKillop said after the game, “They shock me the way they come to practice and want to get better. They’re not content. There’s no fat about winning. There’s a quiet confidence with a balance of humility, which is quite a combination.”

Against VCU’s famed “havoc” style of game, the Wildcats looked quite composed for much of the night. It was Davidson winning every loose ball and running the fast-breaks. The Rams were unable to put Davidson’s guards under continued pressure despite running a full-court press the entire game. VCU piled up fouls inside out steals. Davidson’s turnovers mostly came in the half-court, which while undesirable, didn’t let VCU get out in transition.

In the first half, Davidson came out on fire, feeding off the unbelievable energy inside the building to build a 14-2 lead just after the first media timeout, forcing four early turnovers and hitting their first five shots. After the Rams settled down for a few minutes, Barham and Sullivan knocked down two consecutive triples to bring the house down as Smart called a timeout with Davidson leading 29-13. Another Sullivan three with 5:40 left extended the lead to 21, capping a 13-2 two run. At the half, Davidson led 40-21.

Davidson outrebounded VCU 41-32 on the night, getting big minutes from Andrew McAuliffe ’17. Also notable was the return of “speedo guy.” Luke Burton, an Atlantic 10 champion swimmer in the 200 backstroke brought free throw antics to a new level in the first half, stripping to a speedo behind the basket. VCU was just 2-7 from the line in that half, and 12-24 overall. Burton’s antics were all the rage in the media room postgame.

This was VCU’s third loss in a row and sixth in the last ten games since star guard Briante Weber injured his knee at the end of January. They’ll be dancing in a couple weeks, but the Rams’ lackluster play and Shaka Smart’s disillusioned look during the post-game press conference showed that this is a team that is nearly crisis mode.

For Davidson, Ali Mackay ’15, a senior from Scotland, got the start in his last ever home game as McKillop continued the tradition of starting seniors on senior night. He also exited to a large hand in the final minute.

When asked, “Could you have scripted this final game any better?” Kalinoski could only laugh, adding with great humility, “I don’t think so.”

Davidson will close the regular season on Saturday with a trip to Duquesne with a conference title on the line. Tipoff is at 7pm. Don’t miss it.

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Primer & Predictions for the Atlantic 10 Stretch Run

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

A year ago, the Atlantic 10 saw six of its teams included in the NCAA Tournament field, but this year, the conference is looking at between one and four bids. The bubble is chalk full of A-10 teams. The issue is part a drop-off in talent from last year and part a jump in parity. Top to bottom, the A-10 has become one of the best leagues in the country, but the selection committee usually doesn’t favor parity. Teams need to separate themselves in the end.

With George Washington losing five of their last six games, the Atlantic 10 has become a five-team race. The top five teams are all within a game of each other, and each team has five games to close out the regular season. VCU, Dayton and URI all sit at 10-3 in conference play, while Davidson and UMass lie a game behind.

So where does each of these teams stand as they head into the stretch run? Let’s take a look:

VCU (20-6, 10-3 in A-10)

Remaining Games: UMass, @Richmond, Dayton, @Davidson, George Mason (Predictions: win, loss, win, loss, win)
State of the Team: After losing defensive star and emotional leader Briante Weber to a season-ending knee injury, things looked bad for the Rams as they dropped three of four. But they appear to have righted the ship. Despite likely Conference POY Treveon Graham struggling to find his game after a series of ankle issues, VCU has found ways to get important wins over the last week with a more balanced approach. JeQuan Lewis has stepped up on the offensive end in an increased role, and while he is certainly not Weber on the defensive end, he still ranks 20th in the country in steal percentage. One has to figure Graham will break out soon too and explode for a couple 30-point games. Their remaining schedule is brutal though. Only George Mason at home in the regular season finale looks to be an easy win.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: The Rams are pretty safely in the field of 68 at this point, as their win over Northern Iowa is looking even better now. But seeding wise, they’ll need to prove that the post-injury drop-off isn’t as drastic as it seemed two weeks ago. With a strong finish to the regular season and a couple wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, my guess is they’ll be looking at a 6 or 7 seed. But should they lose three of these last five games and go winless in Brooklyn, the Rams could find themselves uncomfortably back on the bubble. However, with two straight losses in the final over the last two years, Graham will be out to win this Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

Dayton (20-5, 10-3 in A-10)

Remaining Games: @Duquesene, George Mason, @VCU, URI, @LaSalle (Predictions: win, win, loss, loss, win)
State of the Team: Dyshawn Pierre has stepped up his game this year to move alongside streaky Jordan Sibert as Dayton’s top threats, and the two of them have Archie Miller’s squad peaking of late. However, they have proven very little about their ability to beat the top end of the conference. Against these other four top teams, Dayton is 0-2. Yes, you read that correctly; Dayton has had a very kind schedule thus far. So the road trip to VCU will be a daunting task for a team whose only road win since January 10 came at Saint Louis. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose three in a row to end the season. The trip to Duquesne this weekend could also prove a tougher test than many might think.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: The sheer win-total for Dayton will look rather impressive at the end of the year, so as long as they win at least three of these games and win a game or two in Brooklyn, they should be in the field barring lots of upsets in other conference tournaments. Their win against Ole Miss is a good boost to the resume, and their credentials are also bolstered by their run a year ago, as silly as that may be. My guess is they’ll get in as a 10 seed, but I don’t think they’ll win a game.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

Rhode Island (18-6, 10-3 in A-10) 

Remaining Games: @George Mason, Davidson, @LaSalle, @Dayton, St. Joe’s (Predictions: win, win, loss, win, win)
State of the Team: URI has flown under the radar this year, but after a big win against UMass Wednesday night, they’re riding a surge of momentum. Hassan Martin has become arguably the best interior defender in the conference, and his offensive game only continues to get better. E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell have provided some excellent guard play, and the two seem to have a knack for picking up their play when the other is struggling. Like Dayton, URI hasn’t really been tested (they’re only 1-2 against these other four top teams), but a tricky win at Richmond earlier this month spoke volumes about this team’s potential. The home game against Davidson will be a massive test of the Rams. A win in that game, and I think they can win the regular-season title outright.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: This is a young squad that lacks the experience and the non-conference wins, but they would be hard to leave out were they to win the regular season title. I think they need five or six more wins, including in the conference tournament, to get in. But a key is a signature win that they currently lack. That could come at Dayton or in a conference semifinal. While I think they get in, I currently have them as my favorite for the conference tournament, which would give them an automatic bid of course.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 14-4, 1st overall.

Davidson (18-6, 9-4 in A-10)

Remaining Games: Fordham, @Rhode Island, GW, VCU, @Duquesne (Predictions: win, loss, win, win, win)
State of the Team: Few outside of Davidson, NC expected the Wildcats to be in this position, but here we are in late February and Davidson has a legitimate chance to win an Atlantic 10 title in their maiden season in the conference. As many teams have found out, Davidson is more than just a three-point shooting team. On Wednesday night, they found a way to beat GW on the road despite shooting under 25% from deep. With star point guard Jack Gibbs returning from injury, this team could be peaking at just the right team. The trip to Rhode Island and the home game against VCU are the two big ones. I don’t like the matchup with URI’s defense on the road, but if Brian Sullivan, Tyler Kalinoski and Gibbs are all on their games, Davidson can run the table in conference play.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: Having joined the A-10 in part in hopes of earning an at-large bid, it would be a bitter pill to swallow if the Wildcats just barely missed the tournament after a season as impressive as this one. However, should Davidson win four of these last five and make a semifinal appearance in Brooklyn, the selection committee might just send an invitation to Coach McKillop’s squad. Davidson’s offensive numbers (7th most efficient offense in the country and the only team to score over 70 against likely #1 seed UVA) could help counteract the unimpressive non-conference schedule.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

UMass (16-10, 9-4 in A-10)

Remaining Games: @VCU, St. Joe’s, Fordham, Richmond, @GW (loss, win, win, loss, win)
State of the Team: After non-conference play filled with tough losses and a loss to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 opener, things looked bleak for the Minutemen. But since that loss, UMass has been as hot as anyone in the conference. Trey Davis becoming a more consistent scorer was exactly what this highly balanced team needed. Cady Lalanne’s interior play has also done wonders for the Minutemen, especially on the defensive end. If UMass can find a way to steal the game at VCU tomorrow, watch out. This is a team that knows how to win and has a kind final stretch of games.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: They need to win the conference tournament. Or maybe they can run the table in conference play and lose in the final. Going 7-6 in non-conference play made their path much more difficult. However, a win at VCU would certainly grab the attention of the selection committee. Don’t sleep on UMass, but similarly, don’t hold your breath for a tournament bid.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 12-6, 5th overall.

This is set up to be a wild couple of weeks in the Atlantic 10. Check back here for further coverage and follow me on Twitter (@Klaus_Faust) for updates.

Who do you think will win the conference? Please comment below and discuss.

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Barham’s Huge Second Half Sees Davidson Squeak by GW on the Road

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

Boosted by the return of leading scorer Jack Gibbs ’17, Davidson (18-6, 9-4 in A-10) ground out a 65-63 against George Washington (17-9, 7-6 in A-10) for a huge resume-boosting win. The Wildcats trailed by 8 at the break, but a huge second half from Jordan Barham ’16 helped Davidson come back despite 8-33 shooting from deep.

On the road in Foggy Bottom, Davidson faced one of its toughest tests of the season against a talented George Washington squad that badly needed a win. After starting 6-1 in the A-10, the Colonials had lost four of five to push them to the edge of the bubble and were pumped up in front of their home crowd.

George Washington used a 13-0 run to take a 24-16 lead late in the first half as Davidson went over seven minutes without a point, and went up by 10 soon after. John Kopriva stepped outside to knock down a couple of triples while his frontcourt mate Kevin Larsen banged inside to great effect. The Wildcats found it difficult to create any sort of offense in the halfcourt, and were guilty of trying to force the ball inside because outside shots weren’t falling. Davidson missed 13 of their last 14 threes in the half. But despite the offensive struggles which produced their lowest scoring half of the season, Davidson only trailed 31-23.

Davidson took the lead almost immediately after the break by opening the second half on a 10-0 run, with eight points coming from Jordan Barham ’16, who sat almost the entire first half with two fouls. His insertion into the game relieved the pressure on Davidson’s shooters as he opened up the drive. Barham was tremendous in the second half as he pounded smaller defenders on the block. He finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds, with every point and all but one of the rebounds coming in the second half.

The game stayed close throughout the second frame. Up two with 22 seconds left, Davidson committed a backcourt violation, a play on which Brian Sullivan ’16 appeared to hurt his knee. The ensuing possession saw the Colonials miss a deep, contested three at the buzzer, with good defense provided by Gibbs on the perimeter.

Tyler Kalinoski ’15 and Sullivan combined to go only 3-19 from three. Kalinoski went 1-9 from the field in the first half, but in usual fashion, he made a couple of big shots in the second half, while finding many other ways to contribute. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals. And Sullivan too overcame his struggles to make a three that gave the ‘Cats a 63-57 lead with 2:20 to go.

Just before the first media timeout, Gibbs entered the game for his first action since January 17. Playing off the ball, the sophomore captain knocked down a three shortly after walking on the court and followed up with another from the corner not a minute later. Some wondered whether he’d need time to reacclimate, but Gibbs wanted to make sure there would be no such issue. His minutes were certainly limited, but he was on the court in the final minutes and finished with 11 points.

The game featured a stark contrast in playing styles. Where Davidson got the ball up the court quickly and looked for quick threes, the Colonials wanted to slow the pace and get the ball inside late in the shot clock. But the pace settled more in George Washington’s favor.

After shortening the rotation to only eight players in recent weeks, Coach Bob McKillop used 10 players tonight in the first half. In addition to Gibbs coming back into the rotation, Ali Mackay ’15 saw early minutes as Davidson tried to counteract George Washington’s advantage inside. But with Gibbs returning in an off-the-ball role, Jordan Watkins ’18 didn’t lose much of the playing time he’s earned in Gibbs’s absence, although Watkins appeared to hurt his shoulder on a foul in the second half.

Davidson will look to extend their winning streak against pesky Fordham on Saturday night in the last home game before the students go on March break.