Sunday, March 23, 2008

From NY Times

Davidson Stuns Georgetown to Reach Round of 16
Published: March 24, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. — Davidson College has always toiled amid the giants of college basketball, but just beyond the spotlight that follows North Carolina, Duke and the other power programs in the heart of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It takes a lot to get noticed around here.

But Stephen Curry and the Wildcats have surely earned their moment on the greatest stage in the game. They are in the Round of 16 of the N.C.A.A. tournament, singing the team’s theme song, “Sweet Caroline,” all the way to Detroit.

Curry scored 30 points, including 25 in the second half, as No. 10-seeded Davidson rallied to upset No. 2 Georgetown, 74-70, on Sunday in the Midwest Regional second-round game at the RBC Center.

It was Curry’s scoop layup with 3 minutes 51 seconds remaining that broke a 60-60 tie and gave Davidson the lead for good.

The Wildcats, who have won an N.C.A.A.-best 24 games in a row, will face third-seeded Wisconsin in the regional semifinals in Detroit on Friday.

“I’m numb right now,” Davidson Coach Bob McKillop said when asked to put the weekend, including a first-round win against seventh-seeded Gonzaga, in perspective.

“I’m a dreamer and I’ve been a dreamer my whole life. And for me to not think that we could get to this moment would be selling myself and the people who are behind me short.”

But for a while Sunday, it would have been hard even for McKillop to dream that Davidson could win.

Georgetown’s defense had stifled Curry and the Hoyas had built a 17-point lead at 46-29 early in the second half. The Wildcats were all but done.

“I remember being in the huddle — I forget what time it was — we were down 16 and Coach asked us if we were having fun and got us smiling a little bit and got our focus off of where we were,” said the senior guard Jason Richards, who played a crucial role in the first half, scoring 12 of his 20 points to keep Davidson in the game while Curry struggled. “This kid started getting on fire like he did the other day and when he does, it’s tough to stop him.”

Curry found his shot and Davidson (28-6) made its comeback. He had poured in 40 against Gonzaga — 30 in the second half.

If there was a turning point for Davidson, it came with 14 minutes 24 seconds left and Georgetown ahead, 48-33. Curry, held to 5 points in the first half and 2 of 11 from the field at that point, buried a 3-pointer from the left wing and drew a foul as well. The 4-point play cut the Georgetown lead to 11.

But it did more than that for Curry.

“That was one of the first ones that went in for me during the game,” Curry said. “So definitely that got some confidence.”

And that was all he needed. The shots started falling, the Georgetown lead grew smaller and suddenly, Davidson was back in the game. It was a 3-point play by Curry that put Davidson ahead at 60-58 with 4:40 remaining when he hit a layup and was fouled, adding the free throw.

Down the stretch, Curry buried five of six foul shots, enough to hold off a Georgetown team that hoped it was going to make another run at a title after reaching the Final Four in 2007.

The Hoyas (28-6) had come in with a clear size advantage, but they never did take full advantage of it. Georgetown’s 7-foot-2 center, Roy Hibbert, who returned for his senior season rather than go pro, struggled with foul trouble in his final game and wound up with 6 points and a rebound in 16 minutes. He wasn’t a factor.

“I’m not going to comment on the officiating,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said, then added about the fouls, “I was upset about more than one of them.”

Mostly, Thompson was upset that his seniors, including Hibbert, guard Jonathan Wallace and forward Patrick Ewing Sr., would not play again for Georgetown. He choked up as he talked after the game.

“It’s disappointing,” Thompson said. “You know, they have put this program on their back, put us in a position where we can possibly have success in the future. I feel bad for these guys.”

If Hibbert and Company helped rebuild the once great Hoyas machine, Curry has helped do the same for Davidson, albeit on a much smaller scale.

How small? Davidson, a highly regarded liberal arts college with about 1,700 students just north of Charlotte, N.C., has an arena that seats a mere 5,700. And the Wildcats play in anonymity against teams like Elon and Wofford in the Southern Conference.

One of Davidson’s biggest games each year is against nearby U.N.C. Charlotte. They play for something called the Hornets Nest trophy, and the winner gets bragging rights for the year in Mecklenburg County.

Still, it is a program with a rich basketball history that was among the best in the country back in the 1960s when Lefty Driesell was the coach. The team had not won an N.C.A.A. tournament game since 1969 until this weekend.

But with two wins in the tournament, the Wildcats are in the hunt for another trophy. And in most years, that would be enough to make Davidson the darlings of the state.

Alas, with North Carolina steamrolling into the Round of 16 and a top contender for the N.C.A.A. championship, the Tar Heels once again own the spotlight in this basketball-fixated state.

Some things will never change.

1 comment:

DrFrankLives said...

where did you get that picture?

I want a copy of that one.