MBB Recap: ‘Cats Close Out the Season, Look Toward A-10 Tournament

This article was originally published 3/8/23.

The Davidson Wildcats entered last week 14-14 overall, 7-9 in the conference, and on a three-game winning streak. The first game last week was against George Washington, who was 15-14 overall and 9-7 in the conference. This game was pivotal for A-10 Tournament seeding. It was also Senior Night; Davidson honored student manager Jordan Krouse and starting point guard Foster Loyer.

George Washington 3/1/23

Davidson took an eight-point lead early in the first half thanks to Sam Mennenga’s strong shooting start. Mennenga went 4-4 from the floor, 2-2 from three, and 2-2 from the free-throw line to have 12 points in the first 8 minutes. Davidson would cling on to a multi-possession lead for most of the half as Davidson would hold George Washington to zero threes in the first half. Davidson concluded the first half with a six-point lead, 32-26. The game would then start to find some momentum as there were 24 points scored by the under 16-minute timeout in the second. This would lean toward George Washington’s favor, as the track-meet-like style forced Davidson into rushed shots. They missed their first 7 threes in the half. George Washington took a 5-point advantage (57-52) with 8 minutes left in the game, but Davidson would come back, tying the game up with 60 apiece with 4 minutes left. That’s when James Bishop, the A-10’s leading scorer, took over the game, scoring 11 of George Washington’s last 15 points, which was enough to outlast the Wildcats. Davidson fell 75-70 on Senior Night.

Player of the Game: Sam Mennenga. It may have been Senior Night, but it was Mennenga’s game from the start. Mennenga dropped 23 points, 7-11 FG, 3-6 3FG, 6-6 FT, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Stats of Note: Davidson forced George Washington to 5-18 shooting from the three-point line and they had 9 offensive rebounds. Davidson continues to share the ball, dishing out 15 assists. Davidson also went 10-10 from the free-throw line, which is very comforting this time of year. Foster Loyer poured in 16 points along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Grant Huffman continued his excellent play with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and a team-high 5 assists.

Rhode Island Rams 3/4/23

As the last regular season game for the A-10 conference, this game was critical for seeding in the tournament for many teams, Davidson included. Their 7-10 record placed them 9th in the A-10, but St. Bonaventure, who fell to 8-10 after their loss to UMass, opened the opportunity for Davidson to be 8th seed in the conference tournament. Davidson and Rhode Island started off sluggish as Davidson was shooting 4-16 at the 7:32 mark of the game (score was 11-9 Davidson). Even though Davidson didn’t shoot it well, they defended well, denying the Rams a single point from the 15:16 mark to the 5:39 mark. This was vital for Davidson, who shot 7-28 in the first half but led 20-18 at halftime. Rhode Island would tie the game at 20, but Grant Huffman went on a 9-0 run to make it a 29-20 ball game. The lead was 7 at the 7:00 mark (45-38 Davidson), but then Rhode Island started to foul. Davidson shot 16 free throws in the last 7 minutes of the game, of which they made 14. Davidson ran the clock out against Rhode Island and won, 68-54.

Player of the Game: Foster Loyer. Loyer dropped 33 points (1 point shy of half of Davidson’s points), on 10-22 shooting, 5-13 three-point shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He was perfect from the line, going 8-8. His 33 point game was his fourth 30-point game this season.

Stats of Note: Davidson shot the ball well in the second half, going 13-24 and 4-9 from three. Free throws are huge in March, and going 15-17 from the charity stripe is a great sign. Davidson dished out 12 assists and forced 7 steals. Defensively, Davidson showed up, forcing 20 turnovers, 7 steals, and making the Rams go 5-17 from three. Grant Huffman continues his steady play, shooting 6-8 for a 14-point outing, grabbing 3 rebounds, and recording 4 assists.

Look Ahead

Davidson earned the 8 seed in the conference tournament after going 8-10 in the conference and 15-15 overall. Davidson, however, has won four of their last five games. They also took close losses to each of the top-four teams in the conference, showing they can hang around with anyone. (And they beat third-place Fordham back in December). Davidson’s first postseason opponent will be St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.

Last time out against St. Bonaventure, Davidson handled the Bonnies 74-61 in Belk Arena on February 23. It was arguably Davidson’s best performance of the season. Davidson opened that game on a 7-0 run. And they just kept going, extending their lead to 21 points by the end of the half, 43-22. In the second half, Davidson never let the lead get under 12 points, and at the 9:45 mark, both Foster Loyer and Sam Mennenga had more points than the Bonnies (37-36)! Foster Loyer led the team in that game with 27 points, going 7-12 from the floor and 4-6 from deep. And Sam Mennenga finished with 24. Davidson outrebounded St. Bonaventure 39-28, with Davidson Skogman having a team-leading 8 boards.

Davidson will look for similar success against the Bonnies in the A10 Tournament. St. Bonaventure, the 9 seed, enters with the same conference record (8-10) and a 14-17 overall record. The winner gets a date with the 1 seed VCU, which Davidson lost to twice this year, 89-72 at VCU and 61-59 at home. If Davidson were to win on Wednesday and Thursday, they would get a Friday break for practice and media, and then play on Saturday and Sunday if they win out. Excluding St. Bonaventure, there are no foes that Davidson hasn’t played less than twice if chalk were to win out (VCU, Saint Louis, and Dayton) in the A-10 tournament which means that Davidson will know their opponents well. Davidson is playing their best basketball and is set up to make some noise in Brooklyn, NY for Matt McKillops first postseason.

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