Monday, February 12, 2007

Curry Shows off the Big Guns

Davidson made several things strikingly clear in their 73-63 victory over the College of Charleston on Monday. At the outset, they showed that they weren't afraid to play in big games on the road. The Cougars packed Kresse Arena to the tune of 3,784, the fifth largest crowd in arena history. Despite the intimate environment and the charged student section who had been called out in the morning's paper (Gene Sapakoff gets down and dirty), Davidson never let the Cougars intimidate them in the first half as the game was tied 8 times before the Wildcats took a three-point lead into halftime.

Only five minutes into the second half, College of Charleston took a five-point lead on Tauras Skripkauskas' three-pointer. Davidson responded by going on a 15-point run that was capped off by a three-pointer from William Archambault. Davidson would never relinquish the lead as Stephen Curry scored nine points in the final nine minutes en route to a 24 point game (21 of which came in the second half).

Although Davidson was able to shut down the Cougars' offense in the second half (they only shot 34% in the last 20 minutes), it is questionable how much of that can be attributed to the Davidson defense. Max Paulhus Gosselin created matchup problems at the top of the key, but the Cougars were unable to hit the open shots that needed to go down. On the game, Davidson recorded nine steals and six blocks while forcing 17 Cougar turnovers.

Coming off the bench, Andrew "Big Cat" Lovedale had an impressive game, contributing 12 points and seven rebounds with 25 minutes of work. He helped to alleviate the foul trouble that plagued Boris Meno throughout the game. Andrew created mismatch problems for the shorter and slower CofC big men, as he routinely outleaped them for second chance points and rebound opportunities.

The biggest storyline of the night might have come in the matchup between Stephen Curry and Dontaye Draper. Draper, the much heralded Cougar superstar who is battling UNCG's Kyle Hines for POY honors, was kept out of the lane for much of the second half. He finished with only 13 points on 5-16 shooting. Curry, on the other hand, was able to create penetration opportunities for his offense and he also hit several key outside shots to prompt the second half run. Finishing with 24 points, Curry upped his season average to 20.3 points/game as he has scored over 20 in the last six games. He certainly has made a strong case for himself being the conference player of the year. If he won, he would be the first Davidson player to win the honor in his freshman season since Fred Hetzel did it in 1963.

With four games left in the regular season, it seems that Davidson has passed its toughest test. They have beaten all four remaining opponents earlier in the season and hope to finish out the conference with an 17-1 record, 26-4 overall. As long as Davidson does not lose two of their last four games, they will clinch the conference championship and an automatic trip to the NIT. For Davidson fans, however, they don't want this season to end for a long time coming and it better be in the NCAA tournament.


JET said...

The wheels came off in the 2nd half.

Anonymous said...

Hetzel didn't play in the era when freshmen were eligible.