Thought Thursday’s A-10 tournament games were exciting? Well Friday’s quarterfinal showdowns proved to be even better. The day started with a major upset and finished with a game going down to the wire. With the Saturday semifinals set, it’s time for a quarterfinal recap.
Davidson 73, Dayton 67
#1 vs. #9… top seed takes care of business and moves on, right? Nope! While it might not be the Big Dance yet, this is March and crazy things happen. Coming out with high intensity, Davidson took control and dominated the action early. With Dayton playing rusty on the offensive end, the Wildcats took a surprisingly large 37-25 lead into halftime.
Down by double digits, the Flyers knew they were due for a comeback. Battling throughout the second half, Scoochie Smith hit a three to finally tie the game up at 60-60. Then, with 2:08 to go, Charles Cooke nailed a huge three to put Dayton in front 65-62. With momentum shifted in the Flyer’s favor, Davidson knew it needed a bucket. Freshman guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson responded with a big three to tie the game back up. From then on out, it was the Jack Gibbs show. Gibbs drained two highly contested threes as the Wildcats held on to grab the win.
Four Flyers scored in double figures against Davidson, but those performances were all overshadowed by the Jack Gibbs show. Gibbs dropped 34 points in his team’s quarterfinal victory. The Wildcats will move on to face Rhode Island in the semifinals tomorrow at 1:00 ET.
Rhode Island 74, St. Bonaventure 63
Wanting a date with Davidson in the semifinals, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure took to the hardwood for Friday’s second game. In need of a win to help their NCAA tournament chances, the Rams came out playing hard. Rhode Island jumped out to a 12-4 lead before Jaylen Adams and the Bonnies started to fight back. St. Bonaventure did its best to close the gap back down, but the Rams still led 32-26 at the half.
With an impressive student section behind them, the Bonnies came out of halftime playing hard. Matt Mobley sunk two free throws to put St. Bonaventure in front 35-34. From that point on, though, it was all Rhode Island. E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin took over the game, putting up 20 and 19 points respectively. Putting up 21 points, Jaylen Adams did what he could to keep the Bonnies close, but, in the end, it wasn’t enough. Rhode Island defeated St. Bonaventure 74-63 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal showdown.
VCU 71, George Mason 60
With a spot in the semifinals on the line, VCU and George Mason battled to kick off Friday’s second session. Early on it looked like the bigger Rams might just run away from George Mason. VCU took a 12-2 lead into the first media timeout. Showing a lot of heart, though, the Patriots fought back. Following a couple of free throws, George Mason led 18-14 with eight minutes left in the first half. After both teams went on short runs, the Patriots and Rams went to the half tied at 32-32.
Trading stop for stop to start the second half, both team’s defenses stepped up as the offenses struggled. Neither George Mason nor VCU seemed able to pull away from the other as the Patriots led 43-42 at the U12 timeout. George Mason continued to cling to a small lead, but, with six minutes to go, things started to turn around. VCU finally went on a big run, taking a 64-52 lead with 2:23 to play. With a double digit lead in tact, the Rams breathed easy over the final two minutes. With 15 points, freshman guard De’Riante Jenkins led the way in VCU’s 71-60 win. Jalen Jenkins and George Mason fought hard, but in the end, the Rams proved to be too much.
Richmond 70, George Washington 67
Friday’s final quarterfinal game featured a showdown between two very evenly matched teams. Everyone in attendance was excited to see two of the A-10’s best forwards, Richmond’s T.J. Cline and George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh, do battle. Both offenses struggled over the first couple minutes, but eventually things got rolling and the stars started knocking down shots. Fighting back and forth throughout the first half, Richmond and George Washington entered the break tied at 34-34.
The second half of action picked up right where the first half left off. Both teams battled back and forth, neither able to create any separation. Finally, though, Richmond’s Nick Sherod hit a three pointer to put the Spiders in front 51-45 with 10:55 to go. Nevertheless, George Washington kept fighting. After trailing by six with 1:50 left, Jordan Roland and Jair Bolden hit huge shots to put the Colonials down just one. With 5.8 seconds to go George Washington had the ball and a chance to win it. Unfortunately for the Colonials, it was not meant to be. Khwan Fore came up with a huge steal and layup as time expired to secure a 70-67 win for Richmond.
With the win, Richmond advances to the A-10 semifinals and will face rival VCU Saturday at 3:30 ET. ShawnDre’ Jones led the way for the Spiders over George Washington with 19 points. Tyler Cavanaugh put up an impressive double double with 23 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough for the Colonials.
In the end, Friday’s action was certainly full of some great games and surprises. Saturday’s semifinals will feature a battle between Rhode Island and Davidson at 1:00, followed by a rivalry showdown with VCU and Richmond at 3:30 ET. Buckle up A-10 fans, it’s going to be a fun finish in Pittsburgh.