Men’s basketball and Davidson entered Wednesday night’s rematch at Belk Arena tied for 7th place in the Atlantic 10 . With only a handful of regular-season games remaining, both programs were determined to make some movement in the conference standings less than a month out from the A-10 Tournament.
The Colonials (13-13, 5-8 A-10) put up a strong road effort – four players finished in double-figures and the Wildcats (13-11, 6-7 A-10) were limited to just 41 percent shooting – but it was Davidson’s star duo that stole the show and drove its team to a 74–63 victory to even the season series.
Senior guard Jack Gibbs and junior forward Peyton Aldridge, who are the second-highest scoring pair in NCAA Division I men’s basketball (41.6 ppg), combined for 48 points, 17 rebounds and five steals in GW’s fourth loss in five games. The Colonials are now 0-6 in conference play when conceding 70 points or more, and 3-7 away from home on the year.
“We missed shots and they made them, credit to those two guys, [Gibbs and Aldridge] are a two-headed monster,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “That was part of the gameplan of stopping Davidson was trying to stop those two guys, a lot easier said than done.”
While Davidson’s efficient, veteran leaders were rolling, GW’s struggled.
Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh finished with 15 points to co-lead GW alongside starting freshman guard Jair Bolden, but went just 4-for-14 from the field just days after recording a career-high 33 points in his ninth double-double of the season.
Redshirt junior guard Jaren Sina – who shared a career performance with Cavanaugh on Saturday with 22 points against St. Bonaventure – went scoreless in 33 minutes of action Wednesday on 0-for-5 shooting, overshadowing his game-high six assists.
In GW’s 73–69 win over Davidson at home on Jan. 5, Sina had 13 points behind Cavanaugh’s game-leading 20.
“We tried to go play inside-out like we have been doing,” Joseph said. “We tend to get better shots when we do that. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough shots to fall. Tyler went 4-for-14. He had a bunch of short-range shots, shots that he normally makes, they just didn’t fall for him.”
A third of GW’s points ended up coming from the bench, as graduate student forward Patrick Steeves (10p) led an effort off the pine that bolstered the Colonials’ offense, which finished 38.3 percent from the field and 7-of-22 from distance. Despite outscoring the Wildcats’ bench 21-6, however, GW could not overcome 12 turnovers, nine Davidson steals and its 17-for-20 clip from the line.
The Wildcats’ defense came out determined to shut down Cavanaugh and did a good job of keeping him in check during the first half.
Cavanaugh was held to just five points in the frame, but led the Colonials with four rebounds – part of a team-high nine on the night – and three assists.
Instead, the visitors found scoring from Bolden and Steeves. The pair combined for 18 points in the first half to fend off a combined 23 from Gibbs and Aldridge, though the Wildcats got no help from their bench which added zero points.
“[Bolden] was aggressive, looking to score,” Joseph said. “We knew [Davidson] would be shaky on their ball screen coverage for the most part so he did a solid job turning the corner and being assertive. He still needs to play with a bit more pace, and we all need to lock in on the defensive end.”
GW shot 38.2 percent to Davidson’s 43.8 in the opening period and committed four turnovers, but led the boards with 22-19, to head into the break down 37–34.
With 14:37 to play in the second half, a putback layup by Steeves returned the lead to GW for the first time since early in the first, up 41–39.
But Davidson answered right back with an 11-2 run fueled by Aldridge to put the Colonials in a 50-43 hole midway through the final period.
Junior guard Yuta Watanabe, who finished with 10 points, tried to provide a spark with seven second-half points along with five from redshirt senior Matt Hart but a game-changing continued to elude the Colonials.
Davidson kept plugging away offensively to maintain an edge the rest of the night and closed out its 11-point win – which snapped three-game losing streak – with a perfect 12-for-12 performance from the charity stripe.
Men’s basketball continues its road stint Sunday, when they visit Pittsburgh to try for the season sweep of Duquesne (10-16, 3-10 A-10). Tip-off is slated for noon.