Pittsburgh, PA — Earlier this season Davidson led Dayton by 13 in the second half but was unable to hold it. In Friday’s Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinal game, Davidson again had the lead against a fast charging Dayton team and in order to advance had to find a way to hold a lead.
With under a minute left in regulation and the game tied it was senior Jack Gibbs who made two 3-point baskets which created the separation Davidson needed to win 73-67 over Dayton and secure an Atlantic 10 Championships semifinal berth.
“I think down the stretch of the season, we had a lot of close games, lost a couple in overtime,” Gibbs said. “I know in the past, we let teams speed us up and forced us into turnovers and bad shots and that gives them run-outs on the other side of the court, so I think just kind of stay poised under pressure. I know Dayton is a good team. We knew they were going it make a run towards the end and just kind of keep your cool and make the plays that we need to make down the stretch. I think we definitely learned from past games. I guess it paid dividends here.”
Hard to fit all these highlights in from Davidson Wildcats win over Dayton Flyers Athletics PPG Paints Arena today. Jack Gibbs broke a building record with 34 points in the victory, as the 'Cats earn a spot in the #A10MBB semifinals tomorrow.
Posted by Atlantic 10 Conference on Friday, March 10, 2017
For Gibbs, who scored a PPG Paints Arena high 34 points, it was a senior who did not want his Davidson career to end.
“I just kind of wanted the ball in my hand at the end of the game, try to make a play,” he said. “I tried to get some separation on the shot and luckily it went in.”
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) March 10, 2017
As for Dayton, this is now its second consecutive loss and it will have to mentally cast this loss aside and prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
“We’ve just lost an edge about us defensively, which has cost us here in the back six, seven games,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We are spotting teams 15 points, getting down 13 points and it’s hard to claw your way out of it. For us, one loss, a couple down moments here at the end shouldn’t define our season. We’re the regular season champions and we’ve dealt with so much in the off-season and during the season, then our resiliency has led us back to the NCAA Tournament, which is a credit to these guys over here and their improvement. We’ll wait and see where we’re going and what’s going on, and then from there, I think we all know how desperate we’ll have to be to find a way on the biggest stage against the best teams in the country to find a way to win.”
Coming into this game, Gibbs needed 15 points in order to become the fourth Davidson player to score 2,000 career points in the program’s history. Gibbs’s 34 points allow him to now joins Stephen Curry, John Gerdy and Fred Hetzel on that list.
Gibbs did not receive much scoring assistance in the second half as teammate Peyton Aldridge, the team’s second leading scorer was held to four points in the final 20 minutes, making Gibbs’s accomplishment the more remarkable.
“I’m just delighted there’s still time left on the clock for him,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “You coach a long period of time and you get an opportunity to coach some very special talents and young men. I’ve had that great gift given to me, and Jack has just been an extraordinary young man, as well as a great talent for me.”
Rhode Island advances
It is very possible that the Atlantic 10 sees three teams make the NCAA Tournament but with the bubble tightening up and Dayton’s quarterfinal loss Rhode Island has no margin of error, it’s only chance of making the “Big Dance” is winning the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship.
“I think that probably came into the focus as I was walking out on to the court a little bit, because you see Davidson beat Dayton, and Davidson moves into the top hundred,” Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley said. “Now you’re accumulating a chance today to pick up three top hundred wins and improve your resumé. Since we landed here and since we started practicing earlier in the week, all we’re thinking about is taking this one step at a time and trying to win a championship, and not put it in the hands of a bunch of people that we’ve never met.”
Friday saw that goal become one step closer to being accomplished following a 74-63 victory over St. Bonaventure.
“We emphasized making winning plays and we made more winning plays than them,” junior guard E.C. Matthews said. “We got the results we wanted. It’s the same with any other team. We’re not really focused on them. It’s more about us and the mind-set we have.”
This year there will be no controversy surrounding St. Bonaventure, it will not make the NCAA Tournament and with its 20 wins will be hoping for an NIT berth.
“I give all the credit to Rhode Island,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “I thought they did a really good job offensively and defensively. They are more physical than us and we had a hard time scoring the ball. We tried to change things up and one-three-one, two three, man-to-man, try to fool them, and at times, it worked, but they just — you know, they hurt us inside from an offensive standpoint, and we didn’t have much resistance. One of our weaknesses is we have young guys inside and they took advantage of that.”
Going into overtime
Dayton’s loss means that the Atlantic 10 has not had the same school win its A-10 Men’s and Women’s Championship since 1997 when Saint Joseph’s accomplished the feat. This milestone was also reached in 1991 with Penn State. This is the 32nd season the Atlantic 10 has had both a men’s and women’s championship.
Dayton fan Bruce Sucher collapsed at PPG Paints prior to the game and passed away. Sucher is the father in law of Christina Sucher who is the team’s cheerleading coach and also was a Duquesne alum.
The following is a statement released by the Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade: “Earlier today, there was a medical emergency in PPG Paints Arena prior to the A-10 Men’s Basketball Championship quarterfinal Dayton-Davidson game involving a Dayton fan, who was also a Duquesne alumnus. The Atlantic 10 Conference regrets to announce that Bruce Sucher was transported to a local hospital, where he passed away.
“On behalf of the Atlantic 10 Conference and its members, I’d like to offer our sincere condolences to the Sucher family and the entire Flyers’ community on the loss of a tremendous individual. As he was a Duquesne, alumnus, I also offer our condolences to the Dukes community as well. We ask that you keep the Sucher family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”