Thursday, January 11, 2007

'Cats beat Furman 71-63; Extend streak to 10

Driving down to Greenville, SC on a Saturday afternoon last January, I was surrounded by a large group of quaint older Presbyterians in red sweaters, working mothers and their elementary school 'Cat fans wearing vintage Wildcat jerseys and three or four college students who made up the core of the traveling fanbase. That day we had high expectations for a Wildcat victory. Davidson had never lost a game in Furman, and the Wildcats were looking to extend their nation's best 27 game conference winning streak.

I will never forget the feeling of climbing back onto that bus nearly 2.5 hours later. These Wildcats weren't supposed to lose. They obviously had the best team in the conference and yet Furman beat them. I couldn't even tell you why we lost; somehow the scoreboard just kept putting a higher number under "FU." At the end of the day, that's how I felt too.

When the Davidson Wildcats traveled back down to Greenville yesterday afternoon, they had no intention of walking away with such a bad taste in their mouths. For only the sixth time this season, the Wildcats trailed at halftime by 1 point. By the end of the game, the lead would change 18 times and no team led by more than 10 points.

By most outward appearances this game looked to be favoring the Paladins nearly all night long. The Wildcats, becoming better known as a team that likes to continually push the floor, were continually thrown out of their rhythm through inadvertent official timeouts due to incompetent shot clock and scoreboard workers. Furman finished the game having hit 43% of its three-pointers, while Davidson only managed a paltry 28%. Furman also forced a +3 turnover margin in their favor and held the Wildcats to only three players scoring more than 9 points.

However, the numbers can only tell so much. In the last ten minutes, the Wildcats were able to maintain near a 6-8 point lead, and several key baskets by Thomas Sander led the Paladins to fouling in order to keep the ballgame close. Although the Wildcats played terrific team defense all night long, the ice cold end-of-game foul shooting has always been Davidson's key to success.

For the game, Davidson was led by Thomas "Big Cincinnati" Sander who had 25 points, nine rebounds, and three steals. Jason Richards contributed another double-digit performance with 18 points and eight assists, despite six turnovers. On a reputedly "off night" Stephen Curry only managed 15 points and 3 rebounds on 4-11 shooting. Max Paulhus-Gosselin also made good contributions with his eight points and nine rebounds including six offensive ones to continue to Wildcat possessions. As Coach McKillop said in the post-game interview,

"those offensive rebounds are like bolts of lightning to opposing defenses. They come down and strike you in the heart."

The Wildcats will have to look forward to two more "trap" games as they travel to Wofford on Saturday and then host the Citadel on Tuesday. Although the Terriers have not found the winning formula in the SoCon thus far, they have always played the Wildcats tough in that Spartanburg doghouse. Davidson also cannot look past another group of dogs in the Citadel, a team that is 2-1 in their last three conference games including a tough fight to the finish against the College of Charleston last Tuesday. All this will lead up to the biggest SoCon game on the schedule when the Appalachian State Mountaineers travel to Davidson on January 20th for a North-South showdown.

**Photo by Bart Boatwright**

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are unstoppable in the conference! It's only going to get tougher especially with the App State game coming up. I can't wait to see what the rest of this season brings.