Davidson MBB Weekly Recap: ‘Cats Start February Off Right

VCU 1/31

The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams came into the game with one loss in the conference and tied for first in the A-10 with Saint Louis. Meanwhile, the Davidson Wildcats were 13th in the A-10 and were desperate for a conference win, especially against a team at the top of the standings. Davidson, only sitting one game back from 7th and two from 4th, opened the game strong with a 14-7 lead at the under 12 minute mark in the first. Davidson continued to lead VCU from then on, and whenever VCU made a charge for the lead, Davidson would respond with well-designed threes and layups. With 2:37 left in the first, VCU came back from a 34-25 deficient, and with a clutch end of the half shot from Adrian Baldwin Jr., the ‘Cats entered halftime up by 2, 34-32. At the end of the first half, Davidson was shooting 71.4% (5-7) from downtown and 61.9% overall (13-21). The second half was a tight one, as neither team had a bigger lead than 4. This game became even juicier, as Davidson’s Men’s Swim and Dive team showed their support for their Wildcats at the 7:00 minute mark of the second half [link to video]. It was back and forth as there were 12 lead changes in the second half. Desmond Watson would go 1-2 from the free-throw line to tie the game at 58 with 2:15 left. But it would be Baldwin Jr. again, sinking a mid-range fader with 15 seconds left to make the game 60-58 Rams. Davidson went down the floor, and a foul was called with 8 seconds left for Watson. Watson made the first free throw (60-59) but missed the second. VCU grabbed the rebound and sank one of two free throws down at the other end to give VCU a 61-59 victory.

Player of the Game: David Skogman. The big man came off the bench and played 24 minutes for the Wildcats. He had 11 points on 5-9 shooting, 4 rebounds, and a block. His presence inside was massive for the Wildcats defensively.

Stats of Note: Foster Loyer did not play due to a illness, so Grant Huffman and Achile Spadone were tasked with carrying the rock for the Wildcats. Loyer’s absence was covered well by the two, as Achile Spadone played a career-high 29 minutes and went 2-2 from downtown. Grant Huffman played all but 2 minutes for the ‘Cats and had 9 points. Davidson held VCU to zero threes on the night, making VCU go 0-9 in the game. This is a notable difference from when Davidson faced VCU earlier in the month; in that contest VCU shot 15-24 from beyond the arc. Watson made 7-10 free throws and scored a team-high 12 points.

@ UMass 2/4

With Foster Loyer now back from illness, the Wildcats looked to make any ground on the A-10 against the Minutemen. The ‘Cats came out strong again, putting up 19 points by the under 12 minute mark in the first. Foster Loyer made an immediate return, scoring 13 points in the first. Davidson would make it a 10 point game with 9:59 to go (27-17), but UMass would claw its way back, mostly by the heroic effort of Matt Cross, and make it a 38-35 Wildcat lead at the half. The Wildcats made 7-14 from three-point land, and of those 7, 3 of them were made by Conner Kochera. Both teams shot 15-31 from the floor in the first, but the main difference was the amount of threes made by the Wildcats. In the second half, it was on offensive showing from the ‘Cats. At the 12:23 mark in the second, Davidson went on a 13-4 run to extend their lead to 15 (69-54) with 10:02 left in the second. UMass played well in the second, but Connor Kochera went nuclear for Davidson, especially from behind the arc. He made his first 4 threes in the second half (called bank on one of them), and finished with 18 points in the half and a season-high 29 points in the game. Davidson scored 55 points in the second half, shot 64.3% from the field (18-28), and went 7-12 from behind the arc (58.3%). The Wildcats won 93-78.

Player of the Game: Conner Kochera. Having a season-high 29 points and responding to Matt Cross’ 28 points was the main difference in this one. He also added 3 rebounds and 4 assists.

Stats of Note: There’s a lot to like in this game, especially in each half. In the first half, Davidson outrebound UMass 19-11, but the key stat is the ‘Cats crashed the offensive glass, creating 6 offensive rebounds to the Minutemen’s 2, despite UMass leading the A-10 in offensive rebounds per game. Davidson shared the ball today extremely well, having 10 assists on 15 shots in the first. As a team this year, Davidson only averages north of 13 assists a game. In the second half, Davidson played their best half all year. They had 14 assists, 6 players scored, only had 3 turnovers, and shot their best field goal percentage in a half all year. Grant Huffman played his best game as a point guard, dishing out 10 assists to 1 turnover and put in 9 points. At the conclusion of the game, 4 Wildcat players scored in double figures: Kochera (29), Loyer (19), Skogman (15), and Mennenga (14). It was a team effort for the Wildcats in this one.

Look Ahead

Davidson split the week 1-1 and are 11-12. Now, Davidson gets a well-deserved rest, with their next matchup being a week from UMass against Fordham at home on February 11. The Wildcat’s locked up Fordham in their first A-10 game, and look to do the same on Bob McKillop’s retirement day at 2:30 PM Eastern time. Looking further, in Davidson’s next 7 games, only 1 team has an above .500 record in conference play, and after their performance at UMass, the ‘Cats could make February their best month of the season.

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