Davidson welcomed San Francisco out for revenge for a heartbreaking loss in the Chase Center last November. Both teams were 10 seeds in last year’s NCAA Tournament, so fireworks were expected. The Dons were also Davidson’s first Kenpom top 100 opponent. They would live up to their ranking and undefeated record, leading for much of Friday afternoon’s contest. However, the unphased ‘Cats would return the favor and break the Dons’ hearts this year with a late surge! That would be the only game of the week, with the ‘Cats getting much needed rest before the non-conference schedule picks up again next week. Let’s dive in and then take a peek at the road ahead!
Recap – Davidson 89, San Francisco 80
The ‘Cats came out strong, building a 10-5 edge early following several strong possessions. However, the Dons would quickly get hot from long range, building a 24-14 lead ten minutes into the contest on a 19-4 run. They shot a torrid 6 of 10 from three to open the game, but the ‘Cats defensive persistence would soon pay off. USF would miss their next 5 3PT attempts, recording none from the 7:52 mark to roughly a minute remaining in the first. The ‘Cats would take advantage to pound the ball inside and tie the game at 34: they erased the deficit by getting in the lane and to the free throw line, not needing any threes for the rest of the first half. The Dons recaptured a slim 40-36 advantage at the break.
The second half would prove to be a standout showing for Davidson! The ‘Cats offense was firing on all cylinders as they outscored USF 53-40 in the second frame. The first 15 minutes would be a back-and-forth affair, with the Dons never able to stretch the lead past 5. The knockout blow would come with 5 minutes to play when Reed Bailey nailed a go-ahead triple off a Des Watson assist! The ‘Cats would never trail after this shot; it put them up 69-67 and started a 15-5 run to build a 9 point lead.
Check the Stats
Foster Loyer would prove clutch once again, scoring 18 of his game-high 30 in the second! He added an impressive 7 assists and 5 boards for a monster 30/5/7 line. He also had 3 steals and a block! However, his efficiency was arguably even more eye-popping: 87.4 TS% and 81.3 eFG%. His performance was almost overshadowed by Reed Bailey’s emergence. We’d seen flashes of Bailey’s potential, but he put it all together and played a masterful game Friday, scoring 20 points for the first time in his Davidson career. He needed only 11 shot attempts, going a perfect 5/5 from the FT line and hitting the clutch triple late. That amounted to a stellar 75.8 TS%. The other two big contributors on offense were Des Watson and Sam Mennenga, building on their momentum from Charleston and scoring 14 and 15, respectively. This was a truly great team offensive performance against a strong opponent and the best of the young season for Davidson. The ‘Cats had a team 64.9 eFG% and went a near-perfect 28/33 (85%) from the charity stripe. On defense, they held down the paint and forced the Dons to attempt 51.7% of their shots from outside; following the hot start, USF only shot 23.8% from long range. Davidson getting inside and drawing free throws at a 0.596 rate proved crucial: the ‘Cats outscored the Dons by a dominant 40-26 margin in the paint. They also took care of the basketball and won the turnover battle 12-10, scoring 17 off them to USF’s 11. All in all, it’s tough to find anything the ‘Cats could’ve done better on offense. They only had 2 offensive rebounds, but when you shoot the ball so well, you don’t get many opportunities! That’s just suffering from success.
Final Thoughts, Around the League, and a Look Ahead
- Weekly Foster Loyer Scoring Update: as of Monday, he’s back in first place in the A10 in scoring and tied for fifth in the nation, with 22.7 PPG! Of the top 9 nationally in PPG, he’s the only player with an eFG above 60%, at 60.1% currently! Within the A10, he’s also now third in assists per game (5.0) and fourth in steals (1.9).
- Reed Bailey won A10 Rookie of the Week despite only playing one game! That’s his first time (of hopefully several) earning that honor.
- Davidson still has the best record in the A10 at 6-1. That’s tied with Fordham, though according to Kenpom’s metrics the Rams have played one of the five easiest schedules in the nation thus far. The ‘Cats, by comparison, rank 155th in SOS. Some other teams around the league had a difficult week. Preseason favorites Dayton struggled, going 0-3 at the Battle for Atlantis, while Saint Louis fell just short late on the road against Auburn. However, St. Bonaventure notched an impressive W over previously unbeaten Notre Dame on Friday! The A10 also went 4-0 in non-conference play Saturday, which was the first time the league has been unbeaten with at least 3 teams in action this year. Davidson’s lone loss, Charleston, continues to impress. The Cougars were the third team outside of the AP Top 25 Monday among others receiving votes.
- Davidson is home against Charlotte Tuesday in the Battle for the Hornets’ Nest before traveling to face Delaware this Saturday. The 49ers started 4-0 but were handed their first loss against the A10’s own UMass Minutemen. They dropped to 5-2 with a blowout 70-49 loss to Detroit Mercy. Despite this loss, the 49ers would still be a nice win for Davidson’s resume: they rank 145th currently in Kenpom. They will challenge the ‘Cats with a pack line defense and methodical pace on offense, ranking 361st of 363 teams in adjusted tempo. This combination has the 49ers holding their opponents to a mere 55.0 PPG, good for 11th in Division I. Huntersville native guard Brice Williams is their only scorer in double figures, averaging 11.4 PPG and shooting an impressive 42.1% from three. This will probably be a slow-paced game won by methodical half-court offense either way. Davidson won this matchup by 17 last year on the road. Delaware also fell to Davidson in last year’s season opener by 22. However, they made the NCAA Tournament after winning the CAA and earning a 15 seed. They’re 3-3 on the season with a 183 Kenpom ranking. The Blue Hens do have an impressive win over Colgate, a program who’s made 3 of the last 4 Big Dances, so expect a good road test!
- The ‘Cats play 7:00 on Tuesday in Belk and 2:00 Saturday on the road! The games will be broadcast on ESPN+ and FloHoops, respectively.