The two points pushed Kalinoski’s point total to 11, making him the fourth Wildcat to reach double figures. Davidson has never lost this season with a quartet scoring more than ten, and continued the trend Saturday against the Colonials, who lost 77-66 on the road.
“I thought our guys had some fight in them today. This is a tough team for us to play in here, and then when they make all those threes and they definitely shoot the ball well at home and then there are 13 turnovers,” said head coach Mike Lonergan. “The turnovers are brutal.”
GW (18-11, 8-8 A-10) struggled with turnovers all night, giving Davidson (21-6, 12-4 A-10) 13 extra chances via lost balls which the Wildcats exploited for 22 points. GW scored just two points off four Davidson turnovers.
Garino’s giveaways halted a ten point GW run which cut the Davidson lead from 16 to six, punctuated by five straight points from junior Joe McDonald.
McDonald hit his fourth three pointer of the night with 4:25 to play to pull within single digits and force a Davidson timeout.
After the breather, the do-it-all point guard cut the lead to six after slapping the ball out of Jack Gibbs’ hands and taking it to the hoop himself. His layup gave him 20 points on the night, his final number, and McKillop asked for more time. McDonald added eight rebounds, with a 4-0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“You have to be aggressive, they play a real packline defense so you’ve got to be confident in your shots,” McDonald said. “We had a lot of open looks, really our offense wasn’t what we were worried about.”
McDonald had a strong game the first time GW played Davidson this season back on Feb. 18, but there were more painful moments of déja vu for the Colonials as well.
The first time the two teams met, Lonergan talked about the need to play all 40 minutes of the game. The Colonials gave up eight straight points out of halftime in that meeting, and again struggled with lapses in defense. Before GW went on its final run, the Wildcats had pulled ahead by canning five straight threes.
GW scored 11 triples of its own, four each by McDonald and sophomore Nick Griffin, but the Wildcats splashed in 14 on 28 attempts.
“Last game we switched everything, this game we switched nothing,” Lonergan said. “It’s hard because they have four guys on the court, sometimes five, who can shoot. You really have to be focused on defense sometimes on five guys on the court so it’s a tough matchup.”
None of those three-pointers, however, would come from Jordan Barham who had a second strong game inside against GW. After going 7-8 for 15 points in the Smith Center earlier this season, he scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting at home, consistently torching past players who towered over his 6-foot-4 frame.
“Barham two games in a row just destroyed us,” Lonergan said. “It’s not for lack of effort, he’s just stronger than our 6-foot-8 guys but it’s frustrating because he’s taken over both games in the second half and he’s the guy that doesn’t shoot, it’s all just taking it down our throat and scoring.”
The turnovers, and allowing the Wildcats to increase their shooting percentage from 34.6 in the first half to 48.3 in the second, were too much to overcome even with 18 assists and a strong inside game for the Colonials. Behind a 16 point, nine rebound performance for Kevin Larsen, GW outscored Davidson 30-18 in the paint and outrebounded the Wildcats by ten.
Still, the one thing moves to the inside couldn’t do for the Colonials was get them to the free throw line, where they made just one of two shots. Davidson, meanwhile, was 17-21 from the charity stripe.
“I thought we could have gotten some calls in there, our 6-foot-10 guy is battling and we only shot two free throws the entire game, it’s frustrating,” Lonergan said. “Two to 21 and they’re a jump shooting team?”
The Colonials will try to rebound when they play their penultimate game of the season Wednesday at George Mason at 7 p.m.