By Ken Cross
Davidson coach Bob McKillop turned to a boxing analogy on Friday night to sum up his Wildcats’ 83-73 win over St. Bonaventure in an extremely physical game that saw both team on attack all evening. The Bonnies made key shots, but had two second half runs that Davidson answered in winning it’s fifth Atlantic 10 game in six tries.
“They knocked us to the mat continually and we kept getting up and a lot of times, we stumbled to the mat on our own and we kept getting up,” said McKillop.
Davidson started the second half on a 10-4 run out of halftime to build their biggest lead at 51-41 with 16:26 remaining on an stick back by Will Magarity. Then after St. Bonaventure fought back and completed a 12-4 run which brought them to within 55-53, Jon Axel Gudmundsson netted a three-pointer with 12;34 remaining to vanquish the Bonnies’ uprising.
“I think that’s a sign of how our guys showed resiliency and our guys showed competitive fight, even in moments when our guys could have just thrown their hands up because there were moments tonight when our guys could have,” said McKillop.
Gudmundsson drives and lays it in, plus picks up the foul, and 'Cats lead 76-67 with 1:30 on the clock.
LET'S FINISH THIS!!!
— Davidson Basketball (@DavidsonMBB) January 20, 2018
The Wildcats’ character showed in a big way as different players stepped up in different situations to make the Bonnies’ task seem too difficult. St. Bonaventure also fought with tenacity as guard Matt Mobley scored six of his game-high 25 points on two threes in the last 1:11. The first triple sliced a Davidson lead to 76-70 before the Wildcats made 7-of-8 free throws in the last 1:05 to ice a huge Atlantic 10 win.
Peyton Aldridge, the A-10’s second leading scorer, had his usual steady game with 25 points and nine rebounds in playing the full 40 minutes. Gudmundsson was a major story, though, in how he attacked the paint with tenacity inside the Wildcats offense and used to same tenacity on the defensive end to help neutralize St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams, who finished 5-of-15 from the floor, but still had 17 points. Gudmundsson checked in with 21 points and nine assists as he and Kishawn Pritchett had back-to-back threes in a 10-0 Wildcats’ run that gave DC a 68-55 advantage with 6:50 remaining.
“He’s just not afraid to go into traffic,” said McKillop, “How many times did he get knocked to the floor and of course that three-point play was a key point in the game.”
Gudmundsson’s aggressive mentality was on display in the first half as well. Once the Bonnies grabbed the lead at 19-16, he had a quick five points to turn back a 9-6 St. Bonaventure spurt. Then he immediately answered an Adams three with a layup at 7:58 which gave Davidson a 26-24 lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the basketball game.
“Coach just told me to always keep attacking and if they bring the double team, pass it out and if they don’t, I should try to get my lay up – just keep aggressive and keep attacking, said Gudmundsson, who came in averaging 18.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in his past three games.
Davidson once again accentuated it’s three-point game as the Wildcats made 14-of-33 against a St. Bonaventure defense that was giving up only 6.9 per night and allowing just 29.9 percent from behind the arc.
“The great thing about our shooting tonight was that we were prepared to shoot,” said McKillop, “We weren’t just open, we were prepared to shoot. There’s a lot of great shooters in the country that would say that just because you are open doesn’t make you a great shooter, you have got to be prepared.”
McKillop noted that he had seen lots of emotional growth since the second half of the A-10 opening win over Saint Louis 17 days ago. The Wildcats trailed the Billikens, 33-22, at halftime and then held SLU to only 6-0f-21 in the second half. The team seemed to refocus itself immediately after a tough opening loss at Richmond.
That aggressive focus was seen in Friday’s win which could go a long way in seeing allowing to keep Rhode Island within site.
“It was a physical game and an aggressive game by both teams, an attacking game by both teams,” said McKillop, “We answer a lot of knocks to the mat tonight and that’s very encouraging.”