By Ken Cross
The latest version of Atlantic 10 After Dark was a beauty as Davidson hosted Dayton in a late game on Friday. It was the classic example of a league leader in Dayton going on the road into a tough venue late at night against a good middle of the pack team that is well coached in the Wildcats.
The game did not disappoint as the gritty Wildcats, who have had several injuries this season, brought everything they had in terms of energy, toughness, and guile. However, the experience of the Flyers took over in several situations and Dayton pulled out a tough 89-82 win in overtime over the more-than-game Wildcats.
Starting with the one-two punch of Peyton Aldridge and Jack Gibbs, who are second (Gibbs) and third (Aldridge) in the A-10 in scoring, coach Archie Miller knew he had a potentially tough situation on his hands. Dayton didn’t exactly stop the duo, but the Flyers did when it had to be done.
Both scored 27 points. Both played the entire 45 minutes. Aldridge had 19 in the first half and cored only one field goal after his last basket came with 11:19 remaining when he hit his fourth triple to give Davidson a 61-56 lead. Then it was Gibbs’ turn as he scored 14 of his 27 from that point until the end of overtime. However, he and Aldridge had Davidson’s only two field goals in the last 7:44
“I think a couple of things were just getting our guys locked in and try to keep it simple,” said Flyers coach Archie Miller, “We made a couple of switches with Kendall (Pollard) moving on to Aldridge the last eight minutes of the game. He was good. He was physical and he wasn’t giving him as much space.”
An excellent calculated defensive move by Miller who also moved Charles Cook, a more lengthy option, on Gibbs late in the game.
“Then, Charles getting on to Gibbs late in the game, trying to keep a bigger guy on him, making him shoot over the top,” said Miller, “Those guys are good.”
Miller knew that Gibbs and Aldridge generally can’t be stopped as Gibbs goes for 21.2 points per night while Aldridge accounts for 20.7 as they account for roughly 67 percent of the Wildcats points.
“If you just look at their numbers over the course of the season, it isn’t like they did anything different tonight,” Miller commented, “I thought that Peyton was outstanding to start the game. The way he was cutting. The way he was moving without the ball.”
Aldridge scored eight quick points to stake the Wildcats to a 19-16 lead eight minutes in and from there caused matchup problems with whoever guarded him until Pollard arrived not he scene late in the game.
“I don’t think our forwards were used to that and I thnk he really stunned them,” said Miller, “He had a couple of threes off as well. When you get 19 points in the first half, you feel pretty good. He’s a good player should be a player of the year candidate in the conference.”
Gibbs’ toughness was once again worn on his mask as he was protecting a broken nose. It didn’t deter him from going head-to-head against the physicality of the Flyers as 18 of his 24 came after halftime.
“Gibbs, you know you have to deal with him all the way,” Miller said of the 6-foot senior’s tenacity, “You’ve just got to try as many things as you can on him.”