By Barbara Harrison
If there is a more heartbreaking way to lose and get knocked out of the A-10 tournament, you’ll have to show me.
La Salle was up by as many as 18 points in the first half, but Davidson’s Tyler Kalinowski ended its season with a driving right-handed layup at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 67-66 win over La Salle in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals Friday.
The Wildcats got back into the game slowly but surely, with the tipping point coming with 1:18 remaining. Jack Gibbs nailed a three-pointer from the wing and was fouled. He missed the free throw that would have tied the game at 66.
Both Khalid Lewis (right in photo above) and Jordan Price missed shots from beyond the arc on La Salle’s final possession that would have sealed the game, but instead gave the Wildcats one more shot, which they took full advantage of.
Steve Zack turned in the best performance of his tenure at La Salle, scoring a career-high 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to lead the Explorers.
Zack’s counterpart on the blocks, Jerrell Wright, also had a monster game. He scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. Fellow senior D.J. Peterson, who has been quiet much of the year, came through with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Davidson, one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams, started cold, but heated up in the second half. The Wildcats managed to make 14 of their 35 attempts from beyond the arc, eight coming in the final 20 minutes. Jack Gibbs led the Wildcats with 22 points on 7-for-19 shooting.
A key turning point late in the first half was a technical foul, called on D.J. Peterson for taunting Davidson after a Wright dunk had put La Salle up, 46-30, with a little less than two minutes left in the half. The Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to close the half, pulling within striking distance.
La Salle (17-16) got the absolute best start it could ask for, thanks to good game-planning for an obvious mismatch. Zack (18) and Wright (13) combined for 31 points in the first 20 minutes. For Zack, it was a season high in the first half alone. Peterson also made a significant contribution, knocking in three shots from beyond the arc.