This wasn't the way John Davis envisioned Senior Night.
Flanked by family members, Towson's 6-foot-5 forward took the court Saturday night to a standing ovation from the announced SECU Arena crowd of 2,871 — hobbling on crutches. Clad in a red shirt and khakis, instead of his trademark No. 10 jersey, he then took a seat next to coach Pat Skerry.
In what was supposed to have been the final home game of his Tigers career, Davis instead was relegated to the bench, a week removed from taking a bullet in his right knee during an apparent drive-by shooting in Philadelphia.
On a night when Towson closed out its home schedule with a 75-65 win over James Madison for its sixth straight win, it was Davis, fresh off the longest week of his young life, who said he felt like the biggest winner.
"I never question God, never ask him why. I believe everything happens for a reason," Davis said. "More than anything, I've just been thinking about how blessed I am to still be here. Just to be back with my teammates and my family is just the biggest blessing God could ever give me."
For Davis, the nightmare began last Saturday night, after Towson's 69-65 win over Drexel. The 22-year-old stayed in Philadelphia to attend the christening of his 9-month-old son the following morning.
While standing outside his mother's house talking with friends and family, shots rang out from a passing vehicle.
"It happened just that fast," he said. "I really can't remember it, to be honest. Just that fast. ... I know how close it could have been to going the other way."
The day after the incident, doctors removed a bullet from Davis' knee. Now, he expects to be able to return to the court within a couple of months. Although his Towson career is over, Davis — the team's top rebounder (7.6 rebounds per game) and third leading scorer (11.8 points per game) — hopes to continue his career next year overseas, and eventually become a coach.
On Saturday, the coach-in-waiting liked what he saw.
Guard Mike Morsell scored a game-high 19 points to lead four Towson players in double figures. With the game tied at 24 late in the first half, Morsell scored 10 straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to put the Tigers in command.
Behind the play of freshman guard Zane Martin (16 points), guard Deshaun Morman (12 points) and forward Arnaud William Adala Moto (11 points, eight rebounds) — the team's only other senior — Towson (19-10, 11-5 Colonial Athletic Association) quickly extended its lead to 17 early in the second half before withstanding a late rally by James Madison (8-21, 6-10).
Adala Moto said the loss of a key teammate only serves as extra motivation.
"Now we have to play for J.D.," Adala Moto said. "If you're down, if your shots aren't falling, you can't just think about you. Now it's about playing for J.D., too, because we know how much it means to him. ... We're just trying to strap up and take this home."
Towson has won 11 of its past 12 games. With only regular-season road games left at UNC Wilmington and William & Mary, the team is hoping to continue its torrid play into the postseason.
To do that, Skerry said his players will have to look past the loss of Davis, and try not to overplay their hand.
"Nobody can be John. There's only one John. Everybody has to be the best version of themselves," Skerry said. "Everybody wants John to have the fairytale ending and all that stuff. We've got it. John's here. He's with us. Now we're just playing. It's gravy."