Friday, March 16, 2007

From The Observer

Davidson runs out of gas
Curry, Wildcats stay with Terrapins most of way before falling

Maryland's 82-70 win against Davidson in the NCAA tournament Thursday didn't create remorse in the Wildcats' locker room.

It created resolve.

Davidson has all 11 scholarship players returning next season. But those players weren't emotional when they said that Thursday's loss won't linger, even though the Wildcats had chances for a landmark win.

They realize there's a lot to look forward to, especially freshman guard Stephen Curry.
He scored 30 points with a variety of drives, 3-point shots and leaners. Curry is the anchor of the young wave of Wildcats -- seven freshmen and sophomores are key contributors for Davidson.

"Wow," Maryland guard Mike Jones said when told of Davidson's returning lineup. "I knew they were young, but they could play in (the ACC). Next year, they'll probably win their league and beat somebody here."

To do that, the Wildcats will have to learn the lessons from Thursday.

Davidson's offense faded in the final seven minutes, and the Wildcats allowed the Terrapins to outmuscle them for rebounds. Maryland had 19 more rebounds than Davidson and held the Wildcats to 34 percent shooting.

Davidson had its chances. The Wildcats led by eight early in the second half and trailed by four with seven minutes left.

"How do you want to feel this summer?" coach Bob McKillop asked his team during the 67-63 deficit. "How do you want to remember this?"

Curry continued his memorable game, making a 3-pointer and layup, and the Wildcats inched to within 71-68 with three minutes left.

"This is right where we want them," McKillop said.

McKillop knew a close game might melt Maryland's poise, but the Terps never let Davidson take control. Jones hit a 3-pointer with one second left on the shot clock to give Maryland a 75-68 lead with two minutes left, and the Terps held Davidson without a field goal after McKillop's pep talk. Thursday's disappointment hit Davidson's coach the hardest. He went for a solitary walk 30 minutes after the game, but offered this before he left.

"We were 10 minutes away last year (in a tournament loss to Ohio State) and four minutes away this year," McKillop said. "This is an ongoing process, but we took another step forward."


WHAT IT MEANS FOR MARYLAND (25-8): The Terrapins shook off sloppy play to advance into the second round of the tournament.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR DAVIDSON (29-5): The Wildcats' gritty loss ended their season, but could help earn Davidson some votes in the preseason Top 25 next year.

Key Moments

• Davidson used a 9-0 run to take a 52-44 lead with 17 minutes left, but the Wildcats couldn't maintain. Davidson missed 3-pointers on three straight possessions, and had three points in the next six minutes.

• D.J. Strawberry shifted over to Curry full time after Davidson's second-half run. Curry had seven points on 2-of-10 shooting after that.


McKillop realized his team needed a good start. He told his players "Be ready -- be tough," before the game, and yelled "Get in there!" as point guard Jason Richards shot a 3-pointer. It did, giving Davidson a 5-2 lead.

• Davidson will have to work on execution against full-court pressure. Maryland's trapping, frenetic strategy helped create 17 turnovers.

• Richards learned a hard lesson Thursday. One of his top moves is driving to the basket and throwing up bank shots. He's not used to facing a team as tall as Maryland, and three of his shots were altered or blocked.

• Maryland will struggle in later rounds of the tournament unless guard Mike Jones is hitting. The Terrapins don't have another consistent outside threat.

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