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2024 A-10 Tournament Report: Round 1


15 have entered. 1 will remain…


Yesterday, the 2024 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Heading into the 2023-24 Season, I explained in my conference preview that the Atlantic 10’s status as a multi-bid league was very much in question.


Four days away from Selection Sunday, their bid status remains a bit murky. 


However, with an Atlantic 10 Tournament title on the line this week, all eyes shift from bid breakdowns to bracket busters. With 6 teams in action across 3 games, all finishing within single digits, Day 1 of the 2024 Tourney set a high bar for what’s to come later this week.


Psst...if you're looking for a video recap of Day 1, check out my latest Tik Tok with A10 Talk's very own David Korn!



Game 1: Fordham 71, Davidson 63 in OT


After taking down Fordham twice in the regular season, Davidson’s lead over the Rams at halftime of the tournament opener hinted towards a season series three-peat. After a defensive start from both teams that saw Davidson lead 7-5 at the first half under-12, the Wildcats strung together several big buckets late to enter the break up 27-19. Davidson’s Connor Kochera led the Wildcats scoring effort early with 12 first half points, finishing the day with 24 points. Kochera, who also recorded 6 assists in the overtime loss, was one of three Wildcats to record double figures in scoring, alongside Grant Huffman and Reed Bailey.


“I tried to start the game aggressively,” Kochera said. “I come to every game with that mindset of being aggressive, but also selfless. I think, you know, [it works] with Grant especially, but everyone on the team does such a great job moving and cutting, and I’m a beneficiary of that.”


Despite the well-spread effort, Fordham’s early defensive poise prevented the Wildcats from taking advantage of a Rams team that has had a tendency to give up a lot of points at the line this season. After allowing 34 Wildcat free throw attempts in regulation in early January, the Rams allowed just 21 attempts from the line on Tuesday (Davidson made 14). Additionally, the Rams forced 20 turnovers on the Wildcats. Even when you only count the 18 turnovers committed in regulation, this was the most that an opponent has forced on Davidson all season.


“They’re [Davidson] so good in the first 5 to 7 seconds [of the shot clock],” Rams Head Coach Keith Urgo explained. “Grant Huffman, once he gets downhill, you’re in trouble. We’ve been talking a lot over the course of the last 48 hours about keeping them out of the paint.”


Offensively, Fordham completely flipped the script in the second half and overtime. After shooting just 1-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, Fordham would go 4-10 in the second, outscoring Davidson 42-34 in the period. Will Richardson, who finished the day with a season-high 19 points, scored 14 points in the second half alone. Japhet Medor, Josh Rivera, and Abdou Tsimbila would all also make big plays trailing late, giving Kyle Rose an opportunity to drive inside to tie the game at 61 with the clock expiring to force overtime. 


In overtime, it was all Rams as they broke out into 7 quick points before slowing the pace of the game down to a crawl. By extending possessions on both ends as Coach Urgo detailed above, Fordham came away with the 71-63 win. 


As Fordham heads into a Second Round matchup with VCU, Davidson Head Coach Matt McKillop took some time to reflect on two full seasons at the helm of the Wildcats.


“I’ve been in this program, and I’ve been in this conference, for more [time] than I’ve been a head coach,” Coach McKillop said, recounting his tenure as assistant coach at Davidson from 2008-2022 under his father, Bob. “It’s gonna be a fight every single night. That’s what I’ve learned, and we’ve got to be ready.”


Game 2: La Salle 61, George Washington 60


Despite La Salle’s 15-16 record heading into the tournament, the Explorers’ starting backcourt of Jhamir Brickus and Khalil Brantley has been as exciting a duo as anyone in the conference. Early on against the 15-Seed Revs, Brickus, who earned a spot on the All-Conference 3rd Team, put his vast skill set to use for 7 points and 5 boards in the first half. Brantley recorded 8 points in the same span.


Despite the offensive showcase, most of Brickus’ buckets were scored trying to cut down a big GW lead established during an early 7-0 run. GW’s James Bishop, also a member of this year’s A-10 3rd team, recorded 9 points in the period to help keep the Revs up 30-23 at the break.


Down 7 at halftime, Brantley highlighted one key trait that would help the Explorers come away with the win; resiliency.


“We believe in each other,” Brantley said. “At any point in the game, we feel we can come back. There’s been games where we’ve been down 10, early in the season, with like three minutes left. We found a way to come back and win. It’s always about finding a way, chipping away.”


Luckily for Brantley, La Salle would never find themselves down by 10 or more in this game, as they chipped away at GW’s lead throughout the early minutes of the second half. La Salle would re-tie the game at the 11:35 mark at 36 apiece off a Rocus Jocius 3-pointer, leading to a back-and-forth slugfest over the last 10 minutes of the game. 


With 25 seconds remaining in the game, La Salle trailed GW 60-59. Backing in from the left side arc, Jhamir Brickus made his way to the left block before spinning and pulling up over Jacoi Hutchinson for a clutch jump shot, drawing a foul in the process. Brickus would miss the ensuing free throw, keeping La Salle’s lead at 1 and giving James Bishop one more chance to win it for GW. Bishop would miss his attempt at a game-winner, giving La Salle the 61-60 First Round Victory. 


In the postgame presser, the Explorers guards kept it simple when asked how their defense on Bishop all game helped get the win.



As the season comes to a close for the Revs, Head Coach Chris Caputo reflected on Bishop’s impact on this current GW team, as well as the example he leaves behind for future Revs to follow.


“The guy is a pleasure, really, to be around every day,” Caputo said. “[He’s] so low maintenance. He’s so even keeled. For me, he was really a crutch. As you’re trying to build a program, you get a lot of new players. You’re trying to do a number of different things. To have a guy that you know you can kind of lean on a little bit in certain situations was really just a blessing.”


Game 3: Saint Louis 74, Rhode Island 71


The final game of Round 1 proved a fitting finale to the day, as both the Saint Louis Billikens and Rhode Island Rams had plenty of chances to make game-defining plays for nearly the full 40 minutes. 


As fans have seen in years past, runs in the A-10 Tournament are defined by veteran talent. While wins were hard to come by for the Billikens in the regular season, All-Conference 3rd team member Gibson Jimerson and 5th year senior Terrence Hargrove Jr. were in familiar territory as they tipped off against Rhode Island. Shooting a combined 8-15 from the field (4-8 from three), Jimerson and Hargrove recorded 12 points apiece in the first half. The first half was bookended by three point barrages from both players, Gibson to start, Hargrove to finish, to give SLU a considerable advantage at the break.


“I’ve been in that situation thousands of times, and just keeping the guys calm [is key],” Hargrove said. As Rhody continued to push in the second, Hargrove emphasized not letting any Rams runs become too big to overcome mentally. “Basketball is a game of runs. They wanted to make a run, [and] we expected them to go on a run…I told my guys we can’t just lay down. We’ve got to fight back.”


The Billikens fought back in the second half after Rhode Island tied the game at 45 by the under-16 timeout. This second half Rhody push was fueled by 14 second half points from David Green. However, SLU’s experience once again proved to be the trump card, as Jimerson and Hargrove scored a combined 10 of the team’s last 14 points, sealing the 74-71 win.


 

A-10 Tourney Day 2 Schedule

  • 11:30 AM-George Mason vs. Saint Joseph's

  • 2 PM-Fordham vs. VCU

  • 5 PM-St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle

  • 7:30 PM-Duquesne vs. Saint Louis



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