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With NBA scouts in attendance, Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis sets scoring record

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Friday night at Calihan Hall was billed as one star son of a head coach against another — Milwaukee's Patrick Baldwin Jr. against Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis.

That's why more than a dozen NBA scouts and one general manager reserved credentials for a Horizon League game that was broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

But Baldwin, a projected NBA Draft lottery pick, missed yet another game — this one with a calf injury — leaving the spotlight all to Davis, who shined brightest in the Titans' 85-60 victory.

Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis (0) drives past a defender.

Nine of the NBA scouts, including Tim Hardaway and Glen Rice, stayed and watched Davis, a senior guard, and they surely weren't disappointed. He set the program's career scoring record, finishing with a season-best 39 points to move ahead of Rashad Phillips. Davis now has 2,324 points, with more than half of his fourth collegiate season remaining.

"It's an unreal feeling," Davis said. "I probably won't feel it till tomorrow. Just really unreal."

Davis had 23 of his points in the game's first 11 minutes, making his first six shots (five from 3-point range), leading Milwaukee to install an intense double-team. That proved no problem for Davis, who didn't force the issue at all, instead relying on his teammates with some dandy assists — including behind-the-back passes to Willy Isiani (3-pointer) and Kevin McAdoo (driving layup). On the possession after the McAdoo layup, Davis gave up an open look and found McAdoo in the corner for a 3.

"We're so talented," Davis said. "It's not just about me."

Davis finally got open early in the second half and made a 3-pointer, while being fouled, for the 4-point play. On the next possession, Davis found Madut Akec for an open 3.

Davis thought he matched Phillips' Detroit Mercy scoring record of 2,319 about four minutes into the second half, on a 3-pointer. But on the next timeout, it was ruled a 2. Then Davis broke the record eight minutes later, on a pair of free throws — the record-breaker bouncing around the rim before falling through, earning a nice ovation from the sparse crowd.

"I wanted to cry, but I didn't want to cry," said Detroit Mercy head coach Mike Davis, Antoine's father.

"That was probably the toughest free throw of his life."

Phillips, who like Davis was an undersized guard, played at Detroit Mercy from 1997-2001. Phillips, whose No. 3 is retired at Calihan Hall, recently told The Detroit News, about Davis, "I think he's at an NBA level. I think he's playing at the right time."

For the night, Davis matched his season best of 39 points (Hofstra, Nov. 27), and added six assists, seven rebounds and a steal. He was 13-for-20 shooting, and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

All this in his first game since coming down with COVID-19, part of an outbreak that led to Detroit Mercy canceling its last three games — including Wednesday's game against rival Oakland.

As a team, the Titans hadn't played a game since Dec. 19, and had practiced just three times in the last couple weeks. Coming off COVID (he experienced mild symptoms, including congestion), Davis, who also has nagging Achilles' injuries in both legs, took a few breaks on the bench Friday night. Experiencing cramps he attributed to the long layoff between games, he had an extended break in the second half to get his leg wrapped and massaged. He's one of the nation's leaders in minutes per game.

After getting some treatment midway through the second half, Davis stood near the bench, raised his arms and smiled after McAdoo, running the point in his absence, hit a deep 3.

He came in after the next timeout, and promptly broke the scoring record at the free-throw line. After one last 3-pointer, Davis sat the remaining three minutes of the game — the NBA scouts surely had seen enough.

"Honestly," said Antoine Davis, "I didn't know (about the scouts) until after the game."

Noah Waterman finished with 12 points and McAdoo 10 as Detroit Mercy made 18 3-pointers, matching the program record. Davis had eight of them (on 13 attempts), Waterman four, and McAdoo and Isiani two each.

The Titans (5-7, 3-0 and tied with Oakland and Cleveland State for first place in the Horizon League) will next play Thursday at Purdue Fort Wayne. Saturday's home game against Green Bay was canceled, because of COVID-19 issues with the Phoenix.

Milwaukee (5-10, 3-3), which has missed Baldwin, a freshman guard, for several games this season because of a series of injuries as well as one stint with COVID, plays at Oakland on Saturday.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984