Davidson has built its program on hot shooting and ball security.
The Wildcats showed off both strengths Tuesday night at Hawkins Arena in a 78-57 win over Mercer. Davidson shot 29-of-64 from the floor (45.3 percent) and hit 14 3-pointers while finishing with just seven turnovers, including several in the closing minutes when the game was long decided.
Jack Gibbs led the Wildcats with 33 points as Davidson won its fourth straight game to improve to 5-1. Mercer dropped to 4-3 with its second straight loss and was led by Ryan Johnson with 10 points.
The Bears couldn’t keep up with the Wildcats’ dynamic attack as they struggled on their offensive end of the floor: 37.5 percent shooting (21-of-56) and 18 turnovers.
Davidson took control early and had a 41-27 lead at the half as Gibbs hit a deep 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer. The Wildcats continued that momentum in the second half and led by as many as 27 points with 10:25 to play. Mercer led for only 53 seconds, and its final lead came with 19:19 remaining in the first half.
Three who mattered
Gibbs: The Wildcats’ senior guard hit 11-of-20 shots from the floor, including 8-of-14 on 3-pointers, and he had four assists and no turnovers.
Peyton Aldridge: The junior forward added 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Wildcats.
JJ N’Ganga: The Mercer senior had his best game in his first season with the program, finishing with eight points and 13 rebounds.
Starting out: The Wildcats’ starters scored 71 of their team’s points and dominated Mercer’s starters, who didn’t have a player finish in double figures in points while ending up with 27 total.
Taking advantage: Davidson scored 23 points off Mercer’s turnovers.
Not taking advantage: Mercer outrebounded Davidson 43-30, but that was really the only statistic that went the Bears’ way.
Getting some time: For long stretches of the second half, Mercer used five players who were not with the program last year: transfers N’Ganga, Johnson and Rashad Lewis, along with freshmen Darius Roy and Ross Cummings. Johnson finished with a team-high 10 points, while Mercer’s reserves outscored Davidson’s reserves 30-7.
They said it
Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman on the Wildcats: “They are a special team, and they have an amazing coach. They got us on a lot of things that we knew they were going to bring to the table. We thought we would be able to guard them a little better than we were able to. The crux of the game was the first three offensive rebounds they turned into nine second-chance points. We finished the half terrible, and they hit a 3; then we start the second half terrible with four turnovers.”
Hoffman on his team’s turnovers: “We had 18 turnovers, and we’ve been averaging about 8 1/2 per game, and you’re not going to win even playing maybe a lesser team than those guys, but for sure against a well-oiled machine like they are.”
N’Ganga on the struggles guarding the Wildcats: “They were just more disciplined than us and just more consistent.”
Mercer continues its tough non-conference schedule Saturday at George Mason.