Not much went right for UAlbany men’s basketball Thursday night, but if there was a bright spot to be found in the Great Danes’ 99-79 loss at Saint Joseph’s, then Da’Kquan Davis’ performance was it.
Back in his hometown of Philadelphia, Davis, a graduate student guard, turned in his finest performance in a UAlbany uniform, scoring 32 points and helping the Great Danes find at least a small spark on a night in which they spotted the Hawks the game’s first 15 points and eventually trailed 35-6 by the time the game was 12 minutes old.
“His performance was great,” UAlbany head coach Dwayne Killings said after Thursday’s game. “Hopefully, it gives him more confidence to make plays and make shots. We brought him in to score the ball, and he did that at a really high level today.”
Davis’ breakout performance was especially well-timed given the current lack of depth on the UAlbany (2-3 overall) roster. The team’s expected top player, reigning America East Rookie of the Year Justin Neely, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in last Saturday’s Albany Cup against Siena, and current leading scorer Gerald Drumgoole Jr. was scoreless in 17 minutes on Thursday night while severely limited by swelling in one of his knees.
“We need [Davis] to have games like that, but we’ve got to get Gerald healthy,” said Killings, who also noted that freshman guard Marcus Jackson may have suffered a broken thumb during Thursday’s game. “We need Gerald on the floor to be a really good basketball team, but we need other guys to step up.”
Davis has the leading-scorer credentials UAlbany’s in need of as the team heads to Daytona Beach, Florida to open play in the Sunshine Slam on Monday against Austin Peay. The graduate transfer was a star at Division III Arcadia from 2017-21, finishing his time there as the Knights’ all-time leading in points per game (19.6) and second in total career points (1,825).
The coach who led Davis in his first two years at Arcadia, Justin Scott, was on the opposite bench on Thursday night as an assistant for Saint Joseph’s.
Davis scored 17 of his 32 points Thursday during a second half that saw the Great Danes shoot 54.8% from the field and 47% from 3-point range after shooting 27.6% from the floor and 10% from beyond the arc before halftime.
“I think that’s something we can ride going forward,” Davis said. “We found a way to spread the ball around. In the first half, we got good shots, we just didn’t hit them at the beginning of the game and we kind of dug ourselves into a hole.”
Davis was UAlbany’s leading scorer in both of the team’s preseason exhibitions, but entering Thursday was averaging just 6.5 points in the Great Danes’ first four regular-season contests.
The 6-foot-1 guard’s 3-point production took a particular uptick against Saint Joseph’s. Davis was 3 of 10 from beyond the arc in the season’s first four games, and had gone three straight games without hitting a 3, then was 6 of 11 from long range on Thursday.
He also absorbed far more contact against the Hawks than he had previously this season. Through four games, he’d attempted only one free throw. Thursday, he took 14 foul shots, making 10, and drew 10 of the 27 fouls committed by Saint Joseph’s in a whistle-heavy game that saw the two clubs called for a combined 56 fouls.
“He draws 10 fouls in the game, just by his ability to break guys down and get in the paint,” Killings said. “He’s got a really good feel. He’s a really, really savvy basketball player.”