(Brian Sullivan of Davidson celebrates a three-pointer – Mike Lawrence – Sportsday Wire)
In the most thrilling game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Davidson upset St. Bonaventure in overtime, 90-86, in the quarterfinals on Friday night at Barclays Center. Davidson will face VCU in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
St. Bonaventure led throughout the game, with their biggest lead at 12 points early in the second half. The Bonnies led by 11, at 65-54 with seven minutes left.
That was when Davidson began their run and chipped away and pulled to within a point, 73-72, on a Brian Sullivan three-pointer with 2:15 remaining.
St. Bonaventure led 75-72 with just 11 seconds left when Peyton Aldridge was fouled behind the arc and awarded three free throws.
With ice water in his veins and in a building filled with Bonnies fans, Aldridge buried all three free throws to tie the game at 75.
Aldridge said of what went through his mind as he made those clutch free throws, “Just stepped up there and just tried to focus, just three free throws, one at a time, knock them down. We say automatic to make free throws, and everybody just gave me even more confidence to step up to the line, and I just stepped up there, took them one at a time like we were back in the gym, and thankfully, thank God I knocked them down.”
Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop said of Aldridge hitting those free throws, “You know, 85 percent shooter and I think he had missed three — really I think he had missed five because when you miss a one-and-one we count it as a two-shot miss. So he had missed five free ones. We called his number on that play. It was a double curl and he flames out and Dion Wright went after him. Of course, ironically, we ran that play on the opposite side last year at home against St. Bonaventure and Peyton made the shot with four seconds to go to put us up by one, and then Posley went down the other end and made a shot at the buzzer to beat us as the buzzer sounded, so we’ve been in these kind of games with St. Bonaventure and know that experience.”
The game went into overtime, and Brian Sullivan drained a three that gave Davidson an 88-83 lead with 1:12 left to seal the victory.
Jack Gibbs led Davidson with 29 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Peyton Aldridge had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Brian Sullivan had 15 points, all from his five made threes.
Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop said of the game, “A terrific college basketball game, tournament play at its best. Both teams emptied their tank. Both teams made big plays at big times, and it just so happened that we made the big ones in the latter stages of the game. Whether it was regulation or overtime I thought our guys made some big, big plays, so just thrilled to have this opportunity to continue.”
Jack Gibbs said of Brian Sullivan’s clutch threes at the end, “Brian is one of the best shooters I’ve ever played with. He has a knack for making big shots in big moments, and he hit two today, two deep threes that not a lot of people can make. It’s his senior year and we want him to go out on a high note. He fights hard and makes our team go, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Gibbs said of playing in front of the heavy St. Bonaventure crowd, “I mean, it’s fun. That’s why we play basketball. Sometimes the crowd is not going to be in your favor, but I think as a unit our guys just fought. We weren’t really worried about the crowd, we were just worried about every one of us in the huddle and on the team. We care about each other so much, and you just don’t want to let each other down, and I thought we fought hard today.
Aldridge said of the hostile crowd, “Just off what Jack said, that’s fun to play against, and I thought our crowd was terrific tonight, as well, especially down the stretch. They really brought us up. We were a little bit tired and they definitely helped get us going.”
McKillop said of the resolve his team has, “You revisit moments like this as you talk in the huddle, and we had been down last year, people that might have seen the game against La Salle. I think we were down, I exaggerated in the huddle. I said, we were down 14 points to La Salle at this point last year, and I don’t remember really. I know we were down 16 points at one point, and it resonated with them, and they felt they could get back in. It was exhilarating for me to hear their conversation on the bench. We came here to play for 40 minutes, and then when it went to overtime, they said, they gave us five more minutes. We’ve got five more minutes on the clock, that’s great. So there was a positive confidence that permeated every player on that bench, and I’ve got to give credit to our assistant coaches. They made some decisions that I agreed upon. I made the final call, but it was their suggestions that led to us running some of the offensive sets which we don’t run very often but we ran them there to get back into the game and then to pull it out and get those two threes. I’ve got terrific assistant coaches who deserve all the credit for the suggestions they made.”