Davidson star has 38 points in victory over Appalachian
By Tommy Bowman
He made up for it last night.
Curry made his first six 3-point attempts, scored 26 points in the first half and otherwise led Davidson to a 71-60 victory against Appalachian State in the Southern Conference opener for both teams.
Curry, last season’s top scorer and freshman of the year in the SoCon, made 1 of 11 3-point attempts in his team’s only game against Appalachian last season. It turned out to be their only league loss.
Last night’s performance was a different story. Curry scored 38 points - a Holmes Center record. He hit 9 of 16 3-point attempts, 14 of 27 shots overall, and added a team-leading six rebounds and four steals.
“He got to loose balls, had defensive stops, rebounds,” said Coach Bob McKillop, whose Wildcats improved to 3-2 overall. “He did so much that makes him so valuable for us. It wasn’t a surprise to see him shoot that well. We see it every day in practice.”
Curry said that he put last year’s performance against the Mountaineers out of mind.
“It helped making my first couple of shots and get my confidence going,” Curry said. “The guys helped get me open and they found me for open shots. They were pretty aggressive on the defensive end. We had to set them up with some screens to get open. We executed pretty well.”
Teammate Thomas Sander, who had 13 points, said that he felt that it would be Curry’s night from the start.
“He was unbelievable from the first two seconds of the game,” Sander said. “After they announced him as Steven Curry (instead of Stephen with an ‘f’ sound) in the pre-game, I was just looking to get him the ball. I could see the fire in his eyes.”
Curry, a 6-3 guard, made an impact in a hurry - giving the Wildcats the lead for good three seconds into play with a breakaway layup off the opening tap.
Less than five minutes into play, he had four 3-pointers and the Wildcats had a 19-9 lead.
“He played like an All-American tonight,” said Coach Houston Fancher, whose Mountaineers fell to 3-3. “He made some tough shots, some big-time 3s.”
Kellen Brand, who drew the principal assignment of guarding Curry for the second straight year, said: “He did a great job of moving without the ball. One thing I know now is to never slip on defense. The second I would move my hand for a little bit he was firing the trigger and getting the shot off. Next time I’ll know to keep my hands in his face to where he can’t really see the goal. I did that more in the second half and he missed a couple.”
The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 17 points, but got as close as 55-49 with eight minutes left.
Ryann Abraham, who led the Mountaineers with 19 points, four assists and three steals, nailed consecutive 3-pointers to get the Mountaineers started on a 10-3 run as the Wildcats struggled momentarily against a zone defense.
“We defended a lot better the second half and went to the zone to take (Curry) out some and not let him run off as many screens,” Fancher said. “And we were pretty efficient offensively in the second half.
“I really think we’re going to be a good basketball team. We’re just not an experienced team right now and we’re having to learn some lessons.”
The Wildcats responded with the next nine points - all on 3-pointers. Curry had two of them, and also padded his scoring total with drives to the basket and scoring on offensive rebounds.
The Mountaineers struggled inside against the Wildcats’ double-team pressure.
“We’ve been seeing it all year,” forward Donte Minter of the Mountaineers said. “It’s nothing new. I don’t know how quickly we adjusted to it, but we knew it was coming. We’ve just got to be ready to kick it back out or make a strong power move to the goal.”
Fancher said: “The thing I’m concerned about is the consistency of our inside guys. We didn’t handle their double teams very well in the post. We have to do better at that because we’re going to see a lot of it.”
The Mountaineers turned the ball over 17 times, with most of those coming from inside rather than the perimeter. And they struggled at times to loosen the Wildcats’ defense with outside shooting. Abraham was 3 of 5, but Brand and Eduardo Bermudez combined to go 2 for 10 from long range.