Thursday, January 11, 2007

Observer article from Kevin Cary

Davidson gets 10th straight
Furman can't recover after Sander's block

GREENVILLE, S.C. - A signature swat showed how Davidson earned its 71-63 win against Furman on Wednesday night.

Davidson held a tenuous 65-59 lead with under two minutes left, when Thomas Sander threw an errant inbounds pass. Stephen Curry couldn't handle the toss, giving Furman's Tony Anderson an apparent path to the basket.

But those kinds of lanes had been shut down by Davidson the entire second half.

Furman sizzled in the first half -- making nine of 12 3-point attempts -- but the Paladins hadn't been able to make shots after halftime.

As Anderson approached the rim and arched his shot, Sander's right hand batted away the ball, halting the Paladins' final comeback effort.

Sander, a 6-foot-8 junior, isn't known for his vertical leap. He hasn't had a dunk all season -- he missed his only attempt -- and had just four blocks.

"Those are pretty rare for me," Sander said. "I knew I had to do something after that pass. I just got my hand up there and made the play."

Curry scooped up the deflection, and Davidson (14-3, 5-0 Southern) wasn't threatened after that.

The Wildcats held Furman (7-8, 1-3) to eight field goals and 27 percent shooting in the second half. They did it with an aggressive in-your-jersey style. Sander, Andrew Lovedale and Curry swarmed to the ball and knocked the Paladins off their rhythm.

"We were just trying to get up in their face," Sander said. "The referees started letting us play a little more, and I think we got Furman back on their heels."

The Paladins were 1-of-11 on 3-pointers in the second half, while Richards and Sander took charge of the Davidson offense. They combined for 23 points in the half, including 12 during an 18-4 run that gave Davidson a 56-47 lead.

The Wildcats never trailed after that and earned their 10th straight win.

"This team is having a lot of fun right now," coach Bob McKillop said. "They are really enjoying themselves. We have surprised a lot of people."

Especially Sander's newfound skill. He finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, but it was his block that gave his teammates the biggest smile.

"He's not a guy that I picture flying through the air," said Richards, who laughed when asked if Sander could become an intimidating force. "But that play tonight really got us going."

No comments: