Friday, March 21, 2008

Live Blog: Davidson 82 Gonzaga 76

Sitting here at Press Row with a media guy from the Arkansas Traveler and hearing stories about the tornadoes and the SEC Tournament. We have both agreed that when you cover a tournament like the SEC or NCAA, you miss out on the whole perspective of the tournament. I didn't fill out a bracket this year and also did not watch too many of yesterday's games.

The crowd is still pretty sparse here and there are only 15 minutes until tipoff. After all of the clammering for tickets, it makes me feel really sad to see all of these empty seats in the lower deck. Probably Carolina fans who didn't resell and aren't planning on showing up until the Georgetown game.

I am stuck down in the corner with all of the student newspapers and the view of the court is not ideal. Oh well. The Daily Tar Heel is at the very end and that gives me some solace.

The Zags reiterate that this is their time of year as they follow Davidson's fight song with a pep band rendition of the CBS March Madness theme. Jim Nantz and Billy Packer are in place at midcourt for the call.

Just a reminder, I can only post five times during each half and once during halftime. So look for longer posts at the media timeouts.

Let the epic battle begin.

Wildcat nerves showing early as Sander throws the ball away after the Zags hit a nice drive. Pargo for three and the pressure is already on here in the early going. Curry with a response.

Robert Sacre is a beast unlike anything Davidson has run into this year. Sander is pushing and pushing and pushing. Gonzaga's defense hasn't been that impressive so far as Richards has driven for a layup and Lovedale got a slip-the-screen. They don't apply the type of pressure that UCLA or even Winthrop did. But the size is always there even when the speed is not.

Maybe it's just because I am sitting in the Davidson corner but there definitely sounds like a Davidson advantage in decibel level.

Andrew Lovedale picks up his first foul battling for position as we head into the first media timeout.

I will be putting the score and time at the bottom of these posts to change it up a bit.

15:54 D 8 G 10


Gonzaga is shooting very well from the floor, especially from three. Davidson isn't often the fast team when they are playing on a stage like this, but they are today. Gonzaga is just using the space and knocking down jump shots from the outside. Davidson's double team worked well on a possession as Lovedale was able to wait for the shot and he blocked it out of the paint.

Let's see if Davidson's three-point shooting can start heating up. Yep. Curry with a big three and his seventh point of the game to tie at 15 and Gonzaga walks. Momentum: Davidson.

Wildcat fans upset after a really close goal tending call on a Richards drive. The ball seemed to be right at the top of the arc and about to hit the backboard. Could have gone either way.

Stephen Curry on the bench and Davidson's offense slows down again. For just a brief moment it felt like all of those other big games (Maryland, Duke, UCLA) where Curry leaves and other teams just start rolling. Pargo is really on today. I read that he can be hot and cold but he seems pretty hot right now. Davidson has to have some production from Archambault and Barr if they are to keep up with this scoring fest. I don't think Davidson has yet scored from a forward getting the ball with his back to the basket. That's not an option today.

11:21 D 15 G 20


The Wildcats get an easy bucket off an inbounds, but then Gonzaga makes a crucial run. An uncontested Zag tip-in is followed by a Barr air ball and then Steven Gray nails a three-pointer to put the Zags up by eight. McKillop with a timeout and this place is a little quieter.

Gonzaga in a zone that I am just now seeing by looking at the big board. I have no depth perception looking at our side of the court. The Wildcat shooting is just off. The nerves mess with that more than anything else. And Davidson has to be able to hit jump shots to stay in this.

Gonzaga with another three and this one is unraveling. Loose balls around midcourt and Gonzaga's long arms continue to deny Davidson offensively. The Wildcats have to get their nerves and their shooting under control.

7:43 D 17 G 28


Internet conked out and I just lost most of my post since the 7:43 mark. But coming out of that timeout, McKillop made some adjustments and the Wildcats ran to points on three straight possessions. Crowd is still here and still very partisan. But Davidson's perimeter defense is so tentative because of the fear of Gonzaga's bigs. Gonzaga is winning this game on the perimeter.

3:42 D 27 G 33


Sorry about the internet issues. We are at halftime here and Davidson folks are less than thrilled. Gonzaga has outrebounded Davidson 19-11, including eight offensive boards. Add Steven Gray's 5-7 3PT shooting to that equation and the Zags look like a better team on the court. Davidson came out strong in second halves against UNC and Duke and made ballgames of those when things were slipping away going into the break. But Davidson didn't win those games. The memory that I hope these guys conjure is that Greensboro game. The offense was sluggish in that game as well and the Wildcats were getting beat by three-point shooters and a dominant post player then. And the Wildcats were without Thomas Sander then...he missed the end of the first half in this one with a hand injury. He's got it wrapped in the shootaround right now but we'll see how effective he is. Curry might need to score 35-40 for Davidson to win. He did say that he worked all year to have the stamina for these twenty minutes. We will find out if it paid off.

Halftime D 36 G 41


Curry opens the second half with a three. He wants it.

But Steven Gray is so hot. 6 threes now for 18 points. And he's still finding open looks.

Curry wants to play that game. This could be a second half for the ages. Curry with four threes now and 16 points on the game.

Curry is cooling off a little and Meno can't catch the ball. Lovedale and Rossiter in to relieve him and Sander. Gonzaga just keeps coming as Daye and Heytfelt have both the length and touch to control the ball 9 feet off the ground.

The Wildcat energy has turned to pleas as Richards is called for touch fouls on two straight possessions. A no call as Curry is hacked at the rim and now it is anger. Gonzaga back up to an 11-point lead.

Curry hits a tough shot as he is fouled but the Wildcats definitely lost round 1 of the second half. When Davidson trailed Greensboro by so much two months ago, McKillop told his players not to get it all back in one spurt. But Davidson also cannot surrender when a Gonzaga run lengthens a lead. They haven't yet, but then again Gonzaga isn't UNC-Greensboro.

15:23 D 54 G 45


Gonzaga keeps landing punches. Curry won’t take them as he continues to battle to get to the rim. But they are falling hard everywhere else. The Wildcats are getting called for questionable calls and rebounds are bouncing out of their hands. Frustration is very evident on the court and in the stands. Even the Carolina fans behind the basket are upset for Davidson.

Curry won’t let it go. But the refs aren’t helping Davidson’s cause with ticky-tack fouls away from the basket. They need to start calling it both ways.

The internet is screwing with me so I’m pretty frustrated too. I’m going to keep writing on this word document regardless.

Curry won’t let it go. A big three in front of the Wildcat bench and contact on the other end. Refs like to perpetuate momentum and make up for things. They call it in Davidson’s favor. Lovedale with a free throw and it’s a one-possession game.

Gonzaga responds well to hit some shots on their end. I wish both of these teams could get to the second round.

10:53 D 57 G 62


Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. Gonzaga has controlled and dominated them today. But Davidson has more heart everywhere else and the calls are beginning to even up.

Curry ties it with a big three from the top of the key and that one is making a highlight video no matter what happens at the end of this one. The entire arena is on its feet because they are seeing one of the best players in college basketball put on a show for them right now.

As far as I'm concerned, the score is back to 0-0. Who can score the most in nine minutes...forget everything else.

Meno is back in the game after a Lovedale foul and he will need to play with everything he's got. No more turnovers. No more nerves.

Back and forth. Back and forth. And there's another collision at the basket as a Wildcat goes down and no foul is called. Davidson seems to be in control right now. As a timeout is called.

Stephen Curry has 34 points and everyone is tuning into this one around the country.

7:01 D 68 G 67


The Wildcat offense is clicking as all of the attention is paid to Curry. Rossiter finishing big at the basket.

But Gray says I can shoot too, remember? He hits a big three to tie the game for the Zags.

Sweet Caroline blares the arena and the Carolina fans look around and wonder why they don't sing it like we do. The student papers from Arkansas and Georgetown are also impressed.

Cats in foul trouble but Gonzaga can't hit every free throw. This marathon is getting down to its final mile and it is just nerve-wracking as it looks.

MPG stepping up big with a huge three-pointer. Lovedale fouled as he tries to get a rebound and we are in the final round.

This would make a great movie.

3:03 D 73 G 72


Mad Max with his spider defense forces a Gonzaga timeout. His national exposure has been incredible today. He has played with so much fire and the whole country is getting to see it.

Stephen Curry with a three of his lifetime as the clock goes under a minute and he points right at his father 20 feet away. All of press row looks around to see who it was ... and the arena is on its feet.

Daye misses a three and Lovedale comes down with the rebound that Davidson needed four months ago. 37 seconds and it's all about free throws. Hit the first. Hit the second. Five point lead for Davidson with 37 tics to play. Wildcat fans are beside themselves. The Wildcat just came over and messed up my hair. For the record, I straightened it back too...wait til the final whistle.

Gonzaga misses its first free throw and is called for lane violation on the next one. Curry fouled and is on the line.

"!!!" yells a Davidson cheerleader.

Curry hits both and this one is over. It's been 39 years since the Wildcats have been in position. And it feels good. I will be coming back on Sunday.

Curry back on the line and he's going to get to that magic number: 40. A long time ago in snowy Greensboro...we witnessed something incredible. Today the Wildcats showed the country their heart. And Stephen Curry just put on the shoes as the best Davidson player of all time.

Final Davidson 82 Gonzaga 76


Anonymous said...

this game is getting exciting!

WB said...

I'm grinning ear to ear at the office, like a little kid!!!

GO CATS!!!!!!!!!!!

Bstone said...

That second half by Curry was absolutely ridiculous. Kid is special.