The top-seeded Davidson Wildcats beat the LaSalle Explorers on a layup by Tyler Kalinowsky at the buzzer to win their Atlantic 10 Tournament Quarterfinal matchup on Friday afternoon at Barclays Center.
Game Summary: LaSalle came out firing and opened up an 18-point lead, 39-21, on a three-pointer from D.J. Peterson with 4::42 left in the first half. Davidson chipped away for the remainder of the first half, and the closest they got was nine points, 46-37, on a three by Brian Sullivan, with 3 seconds left, and that was the halftime score.
In the second half, Kalinowsky drained a three to cut LaSalle’s lead to 50-46 at the 15:42 mark . LaSalle responded with a 9-3 run capped by a layup from Steve Zack at the 8:42 mark that gave them a 59-49 lead. LaSalle maintained that lead, taking a 66-57 lead with 4:45 left on a dunk by Jerrell Wright. LaSalle would be stuck on 66 for a while, and Jack Gibbs hit a three for Davidson to make it 66-65 with 1:19 left. Gibbs was fouled, but he missed the free throw to tie the game.
LaSalle took their time on the ensuing possession, with Khalid Lewis missing a three with 50 seconds left, but they got the rebound. With a 10-second difference between the shot and game clocks, Davidson let them dribble it down. Jordan Price got a nice look on a three with 16 seconds left. Davidson got the rebound, did not take a timeout, and took it down the floor. Tyler Kalinowski drove down the lane with a few seconds left, laid it up off the backboard, then it bounced off the rim and in with 0.0 on the clock.
Davidson: Jack Gibbs – 22 points on 7-for-19 from the field, 5-10 on threes, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Tyler Kalinowsky – 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting (including game-winning layup), 3-9 on threes, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Brian Sullivan – 12 points (4-11 FG, 4-9 on 3-pt), 2 assists, and a rebound. Jordan Barham – 12 points (5-9 FG, 1-1 on 3-pt), and 8 rebounds.
LaSalle: Steve Zack – 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Jerrell Wright – 19 points on 8-for-9 from the field, with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. D.J. Peterson – 11 points on 4-7 shooting, 3-6 on threes, with 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop: “I thought (LaSalle Head Coach) John Giannini and his team put us on our heels with an outstanding effort, and it’s sad that a team that is winning for 39 minutes and 59 seconds has to go home and lose, my heart feels for John and his team.
“I’ve been with team, six, seven months, and after all we’ve been through, I’m still shocked to have a performance like we had today, come back like we did today, still shocks me. These guys will forever be shocking me with how poised they are, how selfless they are, how team oriented they are, what extraordinary teammates they are. So we are thrilled with this victory.”
TYLER KALINOSKI on the last play: “You know, it went by really fast. We brought the ball up. Jack did a good job attacking. Got it to Brian. He passed it to me and when I looked up, there was about four or five seconds left. I just told myself, you know, attack the rim, because if I attack I can catch an open shooter.
“Then I made a move, saw the lane open, saw the shotblocker coming over and I knew I just had to get it high enough to get over him and give it a chance to go in, and luckily for us it did.”
TYLER KALINOSKI on if he wanted to put the game-winning layup off the glass: “I don’t know if I was going for glass or not. One thing we do in practice a lot, Coach always tell us to shoot it high, because if you shoot it high, you give it a better chance to go in the basket. When I saw the shotblocker coming over, I definitely knew I had to get it as high as I could. But yeah, I don’t think I was going for either one. When I shot it, I knew it had a chance to go in, and luckily it did.”
Q. You said it a couple of times this season, you just said it now, that this is a special group. When did you first begin to sense that, and why?
COACH BOB McKILLOP: “When we were it happened in late November and in early December. We had games in a oneweek span against Central Florida at Central Florida, and Montana at Montana.
“Now if you look at the records of those two teams, they didn’t have banner years. But we had outstanding performances in very difficult environments. Montana was two plane trips. And in both of those games, those teams came after us and knocked us to the mat hard and we responded back, blowforblow, and then went and fought, got them on the ropes and kept them there.
“I came back from Montana, and anyone who ever heard the postgame press conference at Montana on the radio, I was exhilarated. I was exuberant. I was just out of my mind with how thrilling our guys were. We put 110 points on the board and they made great plays, Montana. They just hit us and hit us and hit us. And we come back and make a great play; and then they make one; and then we make one; and it went back and forth. I said, wow, these guys are pretty special.
“Then we go to Charlottesville two or three weeks later, and we went blow to blow with Virginia. And we didn’t have Jordan in that game. He had a concussion. Jake Belford had just tore his ACL, so he was out. We bent blow to blow with them for about 32, 33 minutes. So as we turned the new year into conference, I thought, we might have something pretty special here.”
Q. Everyone is going to remember Tyler’s shot but for the final 4:51 you hold them without a point. Could you talk about the defensive effort?
COACH BOB McKILLOP: Yeah, credit our assistant coaches. They were masters at changing defenses and getting the right matchups in there. My assistant coaches are extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary.
Q. What were you able to do early on throughout most of the first half? They obviously wanted to go down low with their big guys.
COACH BOB McKILLOP: “We came out in the second half and we played the post entry a little bit differently. We had played on the top shoulder of the post and then we sat behind his butt after that. So that if we did catch it, at least he wasn’t in a position where he was sliding off of us. We had to actually put a wall up so that his only option was to turn into the paint, rather than drop baseline. I think that Andrew McAuliffe came off the bench to use his bulk and size to really be a force doing that.”
LaSalle Head Coach Dr. John Giannini: “That’s one of the better games I’ve ever been involved with. Both teams deserved to win. I was surprised that shot went in. I thought that we had them out of rhythm a little bit and it looked like the ball was thrown towards the rim and not shot as well as they normally do, and it just kind of took a couple bounces and went in.
“Our seniors were absolutely amazing. The stats show that. Your eyes could have seen it. They played with incredible effort and pride and togetherness, and they displayed everything that a coach appreciates and admires. Of course, they have been great all four years. So you know, I can’t say enough about them or our effort or the effort of both teams.”