Detroit Mercy basketball hadn’t played since Dec. 19, thanks to three COVID cancellations; visiting Milwaukee is likely wishing that streak had gone on a few days longer, as the Titans buried the Panthers on Friday night, 85-60.
UDM’s Antoine Davis started Friday 35 points behind Rashad Phillips (1998-2001) for the school’s all-time scoring lead. And nearly nine minutes in, he was nearly there, as the senior scored 19 of the Titans’ first 25 points — making six of six shots from the field, including five 3-pointers, and two of two from the free-throw line — as they leapt to a 25-10 lead at Calihan Hall.
“Honestly, I was just trying to do whatever I could for the team,” Davis said.
He didn’t stop there. He finished the half with 23 points, then scored 11 of UDM’s 15 points over the first 4:26 to draw within one point of Phillips. (Davis was actually credited with a 3-pointer that would have tied Phillips’ 2,319 points, but it was downgraded to a 2-pointer when video review showed his foot on the line.)
Finally, with 6:07 remaining, Davis set the record. A foul on the Panthers’ Moses Bol sent Davis to the free-throw line, where he sank both shots — though he needed a generous roll off the rim on the second — to become the Titans’ all-time leading scorer. A couple minutes later, Davis added an exclamation point to the record, burying a 3-pointer from the “Dick Vitale Court” logo on the right side of the court, well behind the line. The long shot gave him 39 points for the game (on 13-for-20 shooting, with an 8-for-13 mark from 3-point range) and 2,323 in his career.
“I just had it going early,” Davis said afterward. “Just do what you do all the time.”
Phillips needed 129 appearances to set the mark at UDM, averaging 18 points a game. Davis, meanwhile, broke the mark in just 94 games, with a 24.6 points-per-game average entering Friday’s contest. That included a freshman season in which he set the NCAA record for 3-pointers by a freshman (previously held by Steph Curry), and a 2020-21 season in which he finished third in the NCAA in scoring, with 24 points a game. Davis is a career 39.7% shooter, with a 36.3% mark from 3-point range. After drawing a reputation as a pure scorer as a freshman, Davis has improved his assist game, going from 3.6 helpers per game as a freshman to 5.2 this season.
Friday’s game was billed as a matchup between Horizon League stars, with Davis facing Milwaukee freshman Patrick Baldwin Jr., a projected one-and-done NBA lottery pick playing for his father, the Panthers’ head coach. Davis was playing for his father, as well: Mike Davis was hired at UDM and brought his son, who had been committed to Houston, and then Texas Southern, with him. In addition to his dad and brother (Mike Davis Jr.) on the sideline, Davis’s mom and grandma were in the stands.
“Just to have my grandma here, it’s a blessing,” Antoine Davis said.
But Baldwin was injured Wednesday night, leaving the spotlight on ESPN2, with numerous NBA scouts in attendance, to Davis alone. And did he ever deliver.
In addition to the scoring record, Davis had six assists, seven rebounds and a steal for UDM (5-7, 3-0 Horizon League). Nate Waterman was the beneficiary of several of Davis’ assists, and finished with 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, all from 3-point range. Madut Akec had seven points and nine rebounds, while Kevin McAdoo added 10 points and two rebounds. Josh Thomas led the Panthers (5-10, 3-3) with 19 points off the bench.
After the game, Davis was asked about the Titans’ future, after winning five of six games around their COVID-induced break.
“We got a lot of momentum going in the final games….” Davis said. “I thought we were gonna struggle a little bit.”
Next up, the Titans will face Purdue Fort Wayne on the road at 7 p.m. Thursday; their Sunday game against Green Bay was postponed due to COVID concerns within the Phoenix program.