Pat Higgins | Sports Editor
In their final regular season game and senior Dominique McKoy’s final game on the Bluff, the men’s basketball team fell to a sharp-shooting Davidson squad 107-79 on Saturday night at the Palumbo Center.
Tylar Kalinoski (32 points, 8-of-10 from 3-point) led the way for the visiting Wildcats, who knocked down 20-of-36 attempts from 3-point range, 40-of-65 from the field and clinched the Atlantic 10 regular season crown with the win.
“We got beat really good today by the best team in our league, by a team that is significantly better than us,” coach Jim Ferry said. “I’ve never seen a shooting performance like that. Thirty five assists on 40 baskets.”
The Dukes were trading baskets with the top team in the A-10 for the first 12 minutes of the first half. The Wildcats held a slight margin during those minutes, but McKoy was playing efficiently with eight points and three rebounds, and freshman forward TySean Powell was doing his part down low, registering 10 points in just over three and a half minutes on the floor.
With 7:58 to go in the half, Powell put the exclamation point on his burst with a slam to knot the game at 30. But from there, according to Ferry, the Wildcats unleashed “a blistering barrage of threes.”
The Dukes shot one of their next 15, while the Wildcats seemed to sink everything. From the eight-minute mark of the first half to the 15-minute mark of the second, Davidson outscored Duquesne 40-9.
“They’re one of the most efficient, potent and dynamic offensive teams that I have seen in all my years,” Ferry said. “The efficiency at which they play at, they’re one of the best passing teams I’ve been around. They’re going to give a team major problems in the NCAA Tournament because you just don’t see teams like that.”
Once the Wildcats built a 30-point lead, it was just a matter of time before the buzzer sounded and the regular season ended. McKoy and Powell were able to get going early, and Micah Mason hit 5-of-7 3-pointers to add 16 points, but the Wildcats’ 60 percent shooting percentage was too much for the Red & Blue to handle.
While Davidson will likely receive an at-large bid regardless of whether or not they win the conference title this weekend in Brooklyn, the Dukes will need to do some damage and win the championship to stamp a ticket to the Big Dance.
With a 6-12 conference record, the Dukes finished 11th of 14 teams in the A-10, as predicted by the preseason coaches’ poll.
On Wednesday night at the Barclays Center, the Dukes defeated Saint Louis in the first round of the conference tournament 61-55.
In all, the Dukes recorded 17 blocks, which is an Atlantic 10 Championship record. Sophomore center Darius Lewis led all players with seven of his own. Mason led the team with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. He shot 8-0f-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Junior guard Jeremiah Jones scored 16 to go with seven rebounds, four assists and one block. Junior guard Derrick Colter scored 14 and grabbed three steals.
The Dukes turned the ball over a staggering 18 times, but outrebounded the Billikens 48-37.
The Red & Blue jumped out to an eight point lead around the midway point of the first half, but Saint Louis climbed back and took a 26-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The two teams traded baskets over the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Billikens had a slight advantage in the first half of the second period, but with three and a half minutes to go in the game, Jones knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Dukes a 56-55 advantage.
From there, the Red & Blue were able to stave off a late comeback chance from Saint Louis. The Dukes and Billikens traded a total of four empty possessions before sophomore forward L.G. Gill knocked down a jumper just inside the free throw line to extended the lead to 58-55.
Colter sank a pair of free throws with 37 seconds to go to put the game on ice. With the win, they advance to the second round of the tournament.
They will face George Washington at 9 p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Network. The Dukes beat the Colonials 78-62 in their last meeting at the Palumbo Center on Feb. 11.