With only a handful of seconds on the game clock standing between him and immortality, Detroit Mercy star Antoine Davis launched a 3-pointer.
But Davis, who had been cold all game, missed as time expired, and Pete Maravich’s NCAA Division I career scoring mark of 3,667 points was preserved in Youngstown State‘s 71-66 win over Detroit Mercy in a Horizon League tournament quarterfinal matchup Thursday.
Davis, the fifth-year star who entered Thursday’s game needing 26 points to surpass Maravich, finished with 22 in the loss. Afterward, he said he feels good about his career and his choice to return to Detroit Mercy, where his father, Mike Davis, is the head coach.
Davis had hoped to not only break Maravich’s record this season but also lead his team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in more than a decade.
“Just special,” Davis said about his career at Detroit Mercy. “I had the opportunity to play for my dad. I was a couple of points short of the record. God knows what he’s doing.”
But is Davis’ college career over?
After the loss, both Davis and his father said they would welcome an invitation to the College Basketball InvitationaI or another postseason tournament, which would potentially allow Davis to continue his pursuit of Maravich’s record. The Titans finished 14-19 overall and 9-11 in Horizon League play, so there are no guarantees they would secure an invite.
But the CBI selects teams from the pool of schools that don’t get picked for the NCAA tournament or the NIT. A program with a sub-.500 record is still eligible to be selected, but all CBI entrants must pay a $27,500 fee.
“The NCAA tournament is the goal,” Antoine Davis said after the loss Thursday. “I wouldn’t have a problem with [the CBI]. I’m sure none of my teammates would have a problem with it.”
On Friday, Rick Giles, president of the Gazelle Group that operates the CBI, told ESPN that his organization was “evaluating” Detroit as a potential participant.
Mike Davis said if a postseason tournament gives Detroit Mercy the opportunity to play another game, he would consult his team about it.
“If they want to play, we’ll play,” the elder Davis said. “If they don’t want to play and it’s time to move on, we won’t play.”
Antoine Davis said he didn’t feel any pressure entering Thursday’s game. Even when the final shot left his hands, he said he was thinking about moving forward in the league tournament.
“I saw that I was really close and I had a chance [to tie the record], but I was more worried about us winning the game than anything,” he told ESPN.
Davis had faced scrutiny for the way he pursued the record. He played in 144 games and five seasons compared with three seasons and 83 games for Maravich, who didn’t play with a 3-point line. But Davis also said he respects Maravich’s mark.
Youngstown State seemed determined to prevent Davis from making history at its expense. He got trapped on most of his team’s possessions, as Youngstown State tried to force him into tough looks. Davis finished 7-for-26 from the field, including 4-for-16 from the 3-point line. He said he expected that pressure on Thursday.
“Nobody in the country can guard me one-on-one and that’s been proven,” Davis told ESPN after the game. “I can’t be mad about it. If I had someone like me on their team, I’d have done the same thing. That’s the game plan at the end of the day.”
Now, Davis will possibly end his career just shy of Maravich’s record.
Mike Davis said both Maravich and his son achieved something special in college basketball.
“People would have put an asterisk by his name if he would’ve broken [the record],” Mike Davis said after the game. “Pistol Pete was in a world of his own and there will never be another Pistol Pete in college basketball. I think there will never be another Antoine the way he scored in 144 consecutive games.”
If he doesn’t get another opportunity to play, Antoine Davis said he would be proud of the way he and his team competed throughout his career. Even though he didn’t match or pass Maravich’s record, he said he is happy with what he has accomplished.
Said Davis: “I’m thankful to even be in the same boat as Pistol Pete.”