Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thompson, Gassie leave it all on the parquet in Wofford

They say that true commitment is built by always playing your hardest, even when no one is watching. On Friday night, the men's basketball team fought hard to a secure a very important Bracketbusters victory in front of a national television audience. On Saturday afternoon, the women's basketball team worked even harder to overcome a double digit deficit to win yet another SoCon battle on the road and pick up a game on Georgia Southern for the all-important third seed in the conference tournament. But only their families, three Davidson students, and a handful of Wofford fans were there to see it.

Davidson overcame a 20% shooting first half and a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Wofford 84-76 in overtime. Several Wildcats put up gaudy stats...Julia Paquette went 8-16 for 23 points, Mercedes Robinson picked up yet ANOTHER double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Alex Thompson recorded 18 points, 9 boards and a career-high 6 steals.

But this win wasn't about the stats. It wasn't even about beating a high-profile SoCon opponent on the road (which Wofford certainly isn't). This game was about Davidson continually coming out on top in situations when they should have been defeated. This was about overcoming all of that rationality in your gut that tells you that your doubt in the outcome is well based. The Wildcats kept hoping...on every steal, every jump shot and every rebound, and ultimately came out on top.

With four Wildcat players ultimately fouling out throughout the contest, Davidson coach Annette Watts had to go the end of her bench to find players to keep battling back as time was extended. But ultimately, she needed to look no further than her gutsy backcourt of Kelly Gassie and Alex Thompson.

Davidson went to a full-court press in the second half to keep Wofford off-balance, and the Cats' came up with several steals, despite allowing some easy Terrier shots. At one point, Wofford scored on four straight possessions late in the game. At another point, they drew fouls on Davidson for six or seven consecutive possessions. The Wildcats were nearly down and out at the end of regulation as Wofford was at the line with a three-point lead and just 40 seconds remaining. After the Terriers missed the free throw and got their own rebound. Things were even hairier. But Davidson forced a turnover, Paquette cut the lead to one. Wofford only got one point from the line on their next possession and Mercedes Robinson rebounded her own miss in traffic and put-back the game-tying basket with 3 seconds left in regulation.

After two more Wildcats fouled out in overtime, Thompson and Gassie took over on both ends of the floor. On one end Thompson is getting a rebound, then she sets up Julia Paquette for a basket. Then Gassie gets a huge steal and a fast break, misses her layup, gets a defensive rebound after another foul on Davidson, rebounds a miss by Kelsey Cary on the other end and gets the ball right back to her. After yet another Gassie defensive rebound, Thompson came open at the top of the key and hit the dagger three-pointer to put Wofford down for good. Thompson iced the game with her 9th and 10th straight free throws. Her 10-10 mark from the line ties a Davidson record for 100% free throw shooting with a minimum of 10 attempts.

The two Wildcat guards were breathing hard by the end, but it was their determination and savvy that pulled the rest of the team through when most of their veteran teammates could only watch and cheer.

This game could very well go down as one of the most exhilirating and hard-fought Davidson Wildcat games this year that no one ever saw. There are no SportsCenter highlights or parties on campus to welcome the team home. In fact, they are staying down in Spartanburg in prep for their road game at Furman on Monday. They will try to keep going about their business and working, step by step, towards a strong showing in the SoCon tournament.

But I don't have to look ahead quite yet. I get to reflect that today's game was one of the most special and gutsy performances that I have seen in a very long time.

1 comment:

Austin said...

great post will. thanks for giving the ladies the attention they deserve, especially in such a huge win. i hate i couldn't make it.