It wasn't easy, yet third seed Davidson found a way. Freshman standout Kellan Grady jumper late propels the Wildcats to the 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship with a 58-57 win over top seed Rhode Island. Davidson held the lethal Rams scoreless for the remaining 3:41 of the game. Grady posted a team high 17 points while co-player of the year Peyton Aldridge added 13 points and 7 rebounds. Rhode Island Senior EC Matthews scored a game high 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the Rams.
Davidson came out red hot, hitting their first three baskets that left Rhode Island looking around for answers for the moment. Co-player of the year Peyton Aldridge of course was in the middle of the run, scoring four of the six points. The Rams regrouped and answered the wildcats run with one of their own, behind sharp shooting EC Matthews and the inside of play of Andre Berry, Rhode Island battled back to take a 33-32 halftime lead.
Second half began with the Wildcats making a statement although this time defensively. Davidson intense defense held Rhode Island to 2-9 shooting from the field while freshman Kellan Grady sparked a 14-7 run with back to back three pointers taking a 47-39 lead at the 11:49 mark. A defensive battle began as neither team could gain momentum offensively. EC Matthews broke the drought for Rhode Island with a lay-up making it 49-45 at the 7:06 mark. Sophomore guard Jeff Dowtin continued his outstanding late game play, being responsible with a 7-0 run to put the Rams on top 53-52 with a little over four minutes left. The Rams during their comeback, held the Wildcats to 0-11 shooting in a remarkable display of team defense. The game came down to the wire and Kellan Grady seized the moment. Grady drove and nailed a runner to put Davidson up 58-57 with 1:14 remaining. The Wildcats would hold on to be crowned 2018 Atlantic 10 Champions.
"I know some teams on the bubble probably aren't that happy with us right now, but we're playing for something,' said A-10 rookie of the year Grady. " Our goal is to be playing our best in March, and we're really confident. Not only did we get there, but we think we can win in the tournament."
Sophomore point guard Jeff Dowtin Jr added 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assist while forward Andre Berry posted 8 points for the Rams.
The game ultimately came down to free throw shooting with neither team able to score for most of the second half from the field. Davidson converted 14-16 from the line while Rhode Island shot 9-17.