Davidson misses buzzer-beater in loss to No. 17 Texas

By C.L. Brown, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Basketball

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Davidson coach Bob McKillop isn't on the cusp of 600 wins from playing for overtime. So with the Wildcats down two with 20 seconds left against No. 17 Texas, he drew up a play to get a look from 3-point range.

And with a second chance, then he drew up another. Neither play ended with a basket as the Wildcats fell 78-76 against the Longhorns in the opening game of the Maui Invitational Monday at the Harrah's Cherokee Center in Asheville. Davidson will face the loser of Indiana and Providence Tuesday at 7 p.m.

"I really believe that we fought Texas as well as we could, and it came down to getting a stop at the end and getting a make at the end and we did neither," McKillop said in his postgame video conference. "I reflected back to the team in the locker room that there were multiple times during the game that one mistake could have been the reason we had lost, not the end of the game when we didn't get the stop or didn't get the score."

Sam Mennenga was 6-of-7 from the field shooting and led Davidson with 17 points and five rebounds. But the 6-9 redshirt freshman from New Zealand missed his last three shots – all 3-pointers that could have given the Wildcats the lead.

The Wildcats (1-1) last had a lead at 25-24 with 7:51 left in the first half. They never trailed by more than seven points the entire game, but had pulled within two, at 76-74, when Mennenga missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

A basket from junior forward Luka Brajovic tied the game at 76 with a minute left on a jump hook that happened to be Davidson's last successful ATO (after timeout) basket.

Texas guard Courtney Ramey tried to answer with a 3-pointer and missed when neither team could corral the rebound and it sailed out of bounds. Possession was initially signaled to Davidson, but the Longhorns got the ball back after an official review.

Ramey, who scored a team-high 14 points, would not miss a second chance to take the lead. This time, he got a step on Davidson's Carter Collins and drove for a layup with 20 seconds left.



McKillop said since Texas was switching its guards defensively, but allowing their post players to play through picks, he designed a play for Mennenga.



"What were we looking for? We were going for the win," McKillop said. "We thought we had — we thought we got a terrific look."

Mennenga had a slight opening, but was still forced to take a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of 6-11 center Kai Jones. He missed the shot from the right wing but three seconds remained.

He'd have another chance when he was actually the third option. McKillop said the play's first and second options were sophomore forward/guard Hyunjung Lee and Brajovic. Mennenga, based on how the defense played him, could handoff the ball to senior guard Kellan Grady for a shot.

Even though Mennenga had the ball, Texas guard Andrew Jones jumped out on Grady thinking he would take the shot. For a split second, it left Mennenga alone with the ball on the left wing.

Mennenga missed the rim entirely and immediately turned to lobby for a foul as the buzzer sounded.



Davidson shot 56.5% from the field, but made only 5 of 19 of its 3-point attempts. Texas coach Shaka Smart said his players were so concerned about guarding their system, that they were vulnerable when Davidson attacked.

"The biggest challenge that Davidson presents is you're so focused on guarding their system, you're so focused on guarding their actions that your one-on-one defense suffers, your post defense suffers," Smart said in his postgame remarks. "That's certainly a credit to them with the way that they attacked."

Davidson jumped out to an early 22-16 lead making just about every shot it attempted from the field. The Wildcats made 10 of their first 13 field goals, benefiting from three Texas turnovers that they converted into seven points.

The Longhorns seemed a step late defensively too, allowing Grady and Mennenga just enough room to get shots off free. That all changed the final 11 minutes of the first half. Davidson wasn't able to get the same open looks and finished making just four of its final 12 shots and trailed 43-39 at halftime.

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