By Jeff Hartsell
Friday, December 14, 2007
Davidson 95, The Citadel 74
DAVIDSON, N.C. — Stephen Curry was in the locker room, getting seven stitches sewn into his bloodied lip. And a crowd of 3,492 at Belk Arena murmured nervously as a battalion of Citadel freshmen fought two-time defending Southern Conference champion Davidson to a halftime tie.
"They numbed me up pretty good to give me the stitches," said Curry, the Wildcats' sophomore sensation who was felled in the first half by an inadvertent elbow. "But the pain started coming back in the second half."
By the time his pain medication wore off, Curry and backcourt mates Jason Richard and Bryant Barr had ended any threat of what would have been the biggest upset in SoCon basketball this season.
The three guards combined for 64 points, led by a career-best 23 from sophomore reserve Barr, as the Wildcats pulled away for a 95-74 victory over the Bulldogs, who were without their lone senior, center Demetrius Nelson.
Davidson (4-5, 2-0) ended a three-game losing skid — the losses coming to No. 7 Duke, Charlotte and No. 7 UCLA — as Curry scored 20 points and Richard added 21 points and nine assists. Curry, son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, played the second half wearing No. 25, his familiar No. 30 jersey sprinkled with blood.
Tied at 39 at halftime, the Wildcats opened the second half by drilling eight of their first 10 shots from 3-point range. The last three were by Barr, who made 6 of 9 3-pointers and has hit 13 of 18 from distance in his last two games against The Citadel. His last 3 capped a 22-4 run for a 72-53 lead that reached 27 points in the final minutes.
"I tried to give our young guys some perspective," said Citadel coach Ed Conroy, who started five freshmen and deployed 10 during the game. "But I could tell they were getting frustrated and stretched out a little bit, trying to get to their 3-point shooters.
"I told them, 'They are shooting well, but we are shooting it better.' But we lost our composure a little bit and got our defense stretched."
The Bulldogs (3-5, 0-2) shot 60 percent from 3-point range (15 of 25) to 55.2 percent (15 of 28) for Davidson. Guard Cameron Wells scored 20 points with six rebounds and five assists, and
Austin Dahn was 5 of 7 from distance for 17 points. Freshman forward Tyrell McDowell, making his first start, scored 13 points, and the Bulldogs' knobs made an impression on Davidson coach Bob McKillop.
"They are going to be very, very good," McKillop said. "For a young team to execute their system the way they did, they are a hand-in-glove group to fit Ed's system. I think he's really laying a great foundation."
That foundation was missing an important piece without Nelson, the 6-8 senior from St. John's High School. He did not make the trip to Davidson and underwent an MRI exam on his injured foot on Thursday.
"In the first five minutes of practice Wednesday, he did not look good," Conroy said. "We were getting on the bus when they said they had an MRI scheduled, so I made the decision right there to leave him at home for the exam. I haven't heard the results yet."
The Wildcats led by 25-17 in the first half when Curry took an elbow to the mouth from guard Jon Brick, who was called for an offensive foul. After the blood was wiped from the floor and Curry was helped to the bench, Andrew Lovedale scored in the lane for a 27-17 Davidson lead with 8:33 left.
The Bulldogs outscored Davidson by 22-12 the rest of the half as Dahn drilled three 3-point shots, the last one a long-range dagger that gave The Citadel a 39-37 lead with 30 seconds to play. Barr got loose for a layup at the buzzer for a 39-39 tie at the break.
"We came out and played pretty well in the first half," Wells said. "We gave a better defensive effort in the first half than in the second. But we had a chance to beat them."
Dahn hit all four of his 3-point tries and scored 14 points as the Bulldogs shot 60 percent in the first half, including 7 of 10 on 3-point tries. Wells hit 5 of 7 shots for 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
Curry played only eight minutes of the first half, hitting 3 of 4 shots, as Davidson shot 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range.
The Citadel is at home to Atlanta Christian on Saturday.
3-Point Field Goals — Cit 15-25 (Dahn 5-7, McDowell 3-5, Urbanus 1-2. Wells 2-4, Brick 1-1, Pandak 1-3, Eykyn 2-3); Dav 15-28 (Sander 0-1, Richards 6-7, Archambault 1-3, Curry 2-7, Bond 0-1, Barr 6-9). Steals — Cit 3 (Wells 2); Dav 11 (Lovedale 4). Blocks — Cit 1 (Dahn); Dav 7 (Curry, 2). Turnovers — Cit 18 (Urbanus 5); Dav 9 (Sander 3). Technicals — None. Att —3,492.