Thursday, 16 February 2017 00:46

Davidson beats GW, snaps 3-game skid

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Davidson's Jack Gibbs glides to the basket as George Washington's Yuta Watanabe defends. Davidson's Jack Gibbs glides to the basket as George Washington's Yuta Watanabe defends. Tim Cowie

Jack Gibbs’ face was obscured by a new protective mask, but it was clear Davidson’s point guard was smiling as he held the basketball and watched the final seconds tick away Wednesday night in Belk Arena.

Gibbs and the Wildcats had just earned a much-needed 74-63 win over George Washington to snap their first-ever three-game losing streak in the Atlantic 10.

“A win is a good thing always, especially when you haven’t won in a while, so we were definitely happy to get back on track,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs collided with teammate Malcolm Wynter in practice Monday and broke his nose. He was fitted for a mask, but initially struggled to adjust to it in Tuesday’s practice.

“It’s really sweaty, and sometimes it gets over my nostrils and I can’t breathe as much,” said Gibbs.

His first shot Wednesday, a 3-pointer two minutes in, missed everything and landed out of bounds.

“I think what happened was they left a window open somewhere in the gym,” Gibbs joked. “I think it was the draft that just carried it. I had them close it after that.”

Gibbs hit his next 3-point attempt, scored 12 of his 21 points in the first half and finished with nine rebounds.

Forward Peyton Aldridge also narrowly missed a double-double, scoring 27 and grabbing eight boards. After the Colonials (13-13, 5-8) turned a 3-point halftime deficit into a 41-39 lead, Aldridge scored seven straight points and gave Davidson (13-11, 6-7) the lead for good on a trey with 12:42 to play. By the time he hit a hook shot with 4:03 left, he’d scored 14 of 21 Wildcat points.

“His teammates did a tremendous job of freelancing the offense to help him get the ball like they did,” said Davidson coach Bob McKillop. “He was superb.”

Aldridge was also often the first line of defense against one of the A-10’s best, Colonials forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who scored a career-high 33 against St. Bonaventure in his last outing. Cavanaugh, along with Jair Bolden, scored a team-high 15, but he missed 10 of his first 11 shots and scored eight points in the final 1:05.

“He’s a great player, and a lot of their offense runs through him,” said Aldridge. “So we really wanted to focus on his tendencies and do as much as possible.”

Gibbs wasn’t the only Wildcat facing adversity Wednesday.

Forward Will Magarity scored seven points and played 13 minutes in the first half, but did not return. McKillop said he was “banged up pretty good” and would be evaluated afterward.

Guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson played 35 minutes, but missed two days of practice this week with flu-like symptoms. Guard Rusty Reigel missed the game with a similar illness.

Forward Nathan Ekwu returned from a knee injury and played for just the second time in 13 games. He had two points and two boards in 12 minutes.

Davidson’s next two games are on the road, beginning with a noon visit to UMass Saturday in the teams’ only meeting of the season. The Wildcats then play at Richmond Feb. 21.

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