The Davidson Wildcats traveled to Brooklyn, New York for the A-10 Tournament in hopes of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the A-10. Davidson, 15-15 overall and 8-10 in the conference, earned the 8 seed, which allowed them to skip the first round of the tournament consisting of only seeds 10-15. Davidson’s first opponent was against the number 9 seed St. Bonaventure Bonnies. The two teams met earlier this season with Davidson winning comfortably, 74-61. The winner would get a date with the number 1 seed, VCU.
Second Round (3/8): St. Bonaventure
Game Summary: The Wildcats and the Bonnies played in a tight contest for the majority of the first half. Davidson shot only 2-11 from three in the half but shot well from within the three-point line, going 8-13. David Skogman scored 5 points including a clutch and-one dunk that sent a message to the Bonnies: the big men for the ‘Cats were here. Foster Loyer hit a deep two to end the half, putting his first half total to nine points and the Wildcats lead 31-26. In the second half, Davidson went out on a 7-0 run to get a comfortable 10-point lead. Desmond Watson heated up in the second half, dropping 11 points and pushing the Bonnies away from Davidson’s lead. Even though Davidson shot cold from three in the second half, going 2-11 once again, they sank all their free throws and forced six turnovers in the second half. The ‘Cats cruised to victory, 65-54.
Player of the Game: Foster Loyer. Loyer generated the most points in the first and facilitated the offense in the second. Loyer poured in 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Stats of Notes: The difference in this game was the amount of free throws Davidson took compared to the Bonnies. Davidson took 15 free throws and made 13 (86.7%), while the Bonnies took 6 and made 3 (50%). Davidson played well in the paint, which contributed to their overall success inside the arc, shooting 20-38 (52.6%) inside the arc. Davidson dished out 15 assists for the game. Defensively, Davidson forced 12 turnovers, outrebounded the Bonnies 37-34, and only gave 8 fouls. Individually, Desmond Watson showed why he is having a sophomore bloom. Watson stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points (team high), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. Grant Huffman continues his consistent play with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 0 turnovers. Sam Mennenga dominated the paint with 12 points and 8 rebounds (4 offensive and 4 defensive).
Quarterfinals (3/9): VCU
Game Summary: Davidson and VCU played each other twice this season and VCU won both contests. VCU would go on a 6-0 run to start the game, but Davidson would respond to tie the game up at 6 a piece with 14 minutes left in the first. From that point, VCU would extend their lead slowly, but Davidson had some solid performances from the freshman big men. Reed Bailey dropped 6 points in the first and Sean Logan had 2 blocks. Davidson shot only four threes and made none, and finished the first half shooting 11-27. VCU took a lead into the half, 37-28. In the second half, VCU defense suffocated Davidson, and the rams built their lead up to 12, 51-39, going into the under 12 timeout. And Davidson could not figure things out after the timeout; a Davidson turnover after the timeout led to a VCU three. And VCU would carry a similar-sized lead, 63-50, going into the final media timeout. Despite Davidson’s efforts to foul and claw back into the game, VCU took care of the ‘Cats 71-53.
The Rams would later go on to defeat Saint Louis 90-78 and Dayton 68-56 to win the conference tournament. With the automatic bid, VCU earned a 12 seed to the NCAA Tournament and will play the 5 seed Saint Mary’s on Friday. VCU would be the conference’s only bid. The last time the conference recieved only one bid to the NCAA Tournament was 2005.
Player of the Game: Grant Huffman. Huffman scored 10 points, earned another 5-assist game on the season, and grabbed 3 rebounds.
Stats of Note: Davidson outrebounded VCU 33-29 and had 10 offensive rebounds against the Rams. Davidson had another 10-plus assists game, 13 overall. Davidson had 5 players that scored 8-plus points, David Skogman (10), Grant Huffman (10), Sam Mennenga (9), Reed Bailey (9), and Foster Loyer (8). Sean Logan had a 2-block game for the second time this season.
Season Wrap Up
The A-10 tournament went much like this season for the Cats. They go 1-1 in Brooklyn and finish the season the season 16-16. The ‘Cats finished the season winning 5 out of 7. 5th-year senior point guard Foster Loyer finished with 974 points in his two years at Davidson and Davidson’s all-time free-throw percentage of 92.8% (246-265). His 92.3% career free-throw percentage (includes time at Michigan State) will slide him into third all-time in the NCAA per Sports Reference. It was a year of growth for the Wildcats, as both Desmond Watson and Grant Huffman took big leaps from last year in their minutes and points production. Matt McKillop’s first season as the Wildcats head coach was an up and down one, but there’s a lot of good things to look forward to for next season.