Antoine Davis’ bid for NCAA history clanged, like so many of his shots Thursday night in Youngstown, Ohio, tantalizingly off the rim.
The fifth-year Detroit Mercy guard, needing 25 points to tie “Pistol” Pete Maravich as the NCAA’s career scoring leader, and 26 to pass the LSU star for No. 1, finished with 22 points in 38 minutes. Likewise, the Titans’ hopes of upsetting No. 1-seeded Youngstown State in the Horizon League tournament quarterfinals fell just off, as the eighth-seeded Titans lost, 71-66.
Davis got to 20 points in the final minutes, then sank two free throws with 10 seconds left after the Penguins were whistled for prematurely celebrating denying Davis the record. Those brought him to 22. After two free throws by the Penguins, Davis had one final shot at history, as he raced up the court. His sprint got him the space for a shot, but it bounced off the rim with four seconds left.
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Davis, who entered Thursday as the NCAA’s leading scorer this season at 28.1 points a game, finishes with 3,664 career points over 143 games. Maravich scored 3,667 over his three seasons (1967-70) at LSU.
The guard hit just seven of 26 attempts from the floor, including a 4-for-16 mark from behind the arc, and hit all four of his free-throw attempts. He finished with two assists and five turnovers in 38 minutes. Marcus Tankersley added 14 points and AJ Oliver had 13.
From the beginning, it was clear that the record wouldn’t come easy, unlike Davis’ previous 11 games, in which he averaged 30 points per to get within reach of the summit.
Davis missed his first four shots, over the opening six minutes, before finally connecting on a long 2-pointer with 13:59 left in the half and UDM trailing by three. A couple of minutes later, Davis connected on his first 3, hitting from the left side just before the 12-minute mark.
Throughout the first 10 minutes, the Penguins’ defensive plan was clear: Stop Davis from getting the record. Almost every touch for the guard drew two YSU defenders. But Davis could not be stopped: Basket No. 3, for two more points, came on a jumper from deep in the left corner, his only space gained through separation while sprinting past his defenders.
After going scoreless for the final 9:47 of the first half, Davis began to warm up after the break, with a pair of free throws a minute in, followed by a 3 less than 30 seconds later to stretch the Titans’ lead to six. Davis was starting to feel it; with just under 15 minutes remaining, he fired a 3 from a couple feet beyond the arc, his feet almost touching the giant “Y” logo at the Beeghly Center midcourt, and it banked in off the rim to give him 15 points.
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But the double teams began to affect Davis, who forced a couple of passes for turnovers, and his Titans teammates struggled to hit their shots. And the Penguins came wobbling back, aided by foul issues for UDM, for an 8-0 run over a couple of minutes to take a two-point lead of their own. Davis picked up two fouls, getting to three for the game, during the run.
He wasn’t exiting any time soon, though. With just over 11 minutes left, Davis drove to his left, then took a step back for a midrange 2. Swish for 17 points and a 49-all tie. Likewise, the Titans found their shots as Davis drew the Penguins’ attention, with Damezi Anderson hitting a 3, AJ Oliver converting a three-point play and Marcus Tankersley getting a three-point play of his own to build a seven-point lead.
Again, the Penguins came back, followed by a Davis 3 to snap a 60-all tie with 4:19 remaining. Just 30 seconds later, the intensity stepped up a notch, as Davis was whistled for an offensive foul. He and father Mike Davis, the Titans’ coach, argued their case, but it was foul. 4 for the UDM star, setting up a tense final few minutes.
Youngstown State, which won the regular-season crown in the Horizon League for the first time this season, is headed to Indianapolis for the conference semifinals.
Davis, meanwhile, is headed to an offseason of waiting for the NBA draft.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Antoine Davis’ bid for NCAA career scoring mark scorned in HL tourney