March 13, 2015

For a team that's heavily reliant on accuracy to succeed, Davidson showed in its Atlantic 10 quarterfinal game that it could overcome some shaky shooting and still win.

Knocking down open looks wasn't a problem when it saw VCU just last week.

After needing a wild rally capped by Tyler Kalinoski's buzzer-beater to advance, the 24th-ranked Wildcats look to make things easier on themselves Saturday against a Rams team that's trying to get to a fifth straight conference tournament title game.

One of two teams in the nation in the top 10 in 3-point makes (330), attempts (823) and percentage (40.1), Davidson was right on its season average accuracy-wise by going 14 of 35 from long distance Friday against La Salle.

It struggled from inside the arc, though, going 10 of 27 and 5 of 13 at the free-throw line. But down 66-57 with just over four minutes left, the Wildcats (24-6) shut out the Explorers the rest of the way and Kalinoski scored seven points down the stretch - including a layup as time expired - to give Davidson a 67-66 win.

"... After all we've been through I'm still shocked at the performance that we had, to come back like we did today,'' said coach Bob McKillop, whose team trailed by 18 in the first half.

The Wildcats shot 38.7 percent, improving to just 2-5 when they shoot 40 percent or worse.

They cracked the 50-percent mark March 5 against VCU to put themselves into position to earn the A-10's top seed. Kalinoski had 22 points to lead the way in Davidson's 82-55 rout.

The Wildcats continually broke the Rams' "havoc" press and committed only 12 turnovers while forcing 16.

"We attacked the attacker," Kalinoski said. "It set the tone for us; we were able to put them on their heels."

Davidson had 15 turnovers in the first meeting, a 71-65 road loss Jan. 7 before VCU defensive stalwart Briante Weber suffered a season-ending knee injury later in the month. The Wildcats had 15 assists in that game, one of only two times this season the nation's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.80) failed to have more assists than giveaways.

Kalinoski has been especially good as Davidson's reeled off 10 straight wins in its first season in the A-10 to almost certainly secure an NCAA Tournament bid. He has 42 assists and 10 turnovers in this stretch.

Fifth-seeded VCU (24-9) is in its third season in the conference, and it's looking to return to the championship game for the third time after getting to that point in its last two seasons in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Since the loss at Davidson marked the Rams' third straight and sixth in 10 games since the one in which Weber went down, they've won their past three after knocking off Richmond 70-67 on Friday.

"We put our backs against the wall, and we have to redefine our identity," guard Melvin Johnson, who matched a season high with 23 points, told VCU's official website. "Bri's a heck of a defender, probably the best in the country, and of course we needed that, but at the same time we have to do what we can. Over time we've just been battling. Getting healthy and battling."

The Rams have only shot 35.7 percent in their first two games in Brooklyn, but Johnson isn't worried about fatigue heading into his team's third game in as many days.

"I think our legs are not going to be a factor because they just humiliated us on ESPN a week ago," Johnson said. "I think this is where we mature and say we don't care about how our bodies feel. This is one of those games where you have to step up as a competitor. That's a great team, so I feel it's going to be a great game."

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