|No cure for Curry
By Steve Behr
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Davidson is tough enough to beat when All-American guard Stephen Curry scores his average of 28 points per game. When he scores one point less than his career high, the Wildcats are almost impossible for any Southern Conference team to stop.
Appalachian State guard Jeremi Booth drives to the basket against Davidson in the SoCon Tournament Saturday. Photo by Steve Behr
Appalachian State found out the hard way that it’s a bad idea to shoot 36.2 percent from the field against Davidson, especially when Curry is hitting his shots. Curry, who is the leading scorer in the nation, showed why as he poured in 43 points, leading Davidson to an 84-68 victory over Appalachian State in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament Saturday.
Curry needed just 27 minutes — he was sent to the bench after committing his second foul with 9:26 left in the first half — to make 11-of-18 shots from the field and 16-of-18 shots from the foul line. Curry added four assists, four rebounds and three steals to his totals.
“We lost to a very good basketball team with a sensational guard,” Mountaineers coach Houston Fancher said. “I’ve run out of adjectives to describe him. He was phenomenal. He’s a really good basketball player and they created shots for him (and) controlled the runs for them.”
What got lost in the Curry shuffle was the 29 points that Appalachian State guard Donald Sims countered with.
Sims hit just 6-of-17 from the field, but made five 3-pointers and hit all 12 of his foul shots. His three free throws following a Davidson foul from the 3-point line brought the Mountaineers to within 56-55 with 10:42 left in the game.
It was the closest the Mountaineers (13-18) had been since they led 5-4 at the 17:33 mark of the first half.
Davidson (26-6) quickly went on a 10-0 run, capped by a Curry 3-pointer, and took a 66-56 lead with 6:35 left. The Mountaineers kept the game within nine-point margin until Curry hit two foul shots to give the Wildcats a 79-68 lead.
“I think we lost a little focus,” Sims said. “Curry hit some big shots for them. I think we lost a little focus on defense. We got close where we wanted to be, but Curry, being the great player he is, answered our call.”
Curry then put the finishing touch on his latest creation when nailed a 3-point shot from 30 feet out, with Marcus Wright in his face and with the shot clock running down. Max Paulhus-Gosselin dunked a Curry steal-and-pass late in the game to finally give the Wildcats some cushion.
Fancher felt that although the Mountaineers didn’t always play well, he was very happy with their effort.
“I thought our kids played with incredible desire,” Fancher said. “They played their hearts out,” Fancher said. “I thought they competed the best they could. They didn’t play great, but they played really, really hard. As a coach, I can sit up here all day long and talk about a bunch of guys who played hard like that for 40 minutes.”
Also lost in Curry’s performance were the 17 points scored by Davidson forward Andrew Lovedale, whose mid-range jump shots in the first half helped pick up the slack lost by not having Curry on the court because of his foul trouble.
Lovedale also had a game-high 14 rebounds.
“We work on setting screens and setting up for a jumper,” Lovedale said. “Coach always says that if the shot is there, take it. If not, don’t force it. It’s all about repetition.”
Appalachian State, which outrebounded Davidson 44-33, got 13 points and seven rebounds from forward Josh Hunter. Appalachian State also pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, which helped them score 17 second-chance points.
But a season-long problem with turnovers was costly Saturday. Appalachian Sate turned the ball over 20 times, which led to 28 Davidson points.
The Mountaineers also had several good looks at the basket, but missed a lot of easy shots.
“That question inevitably gets answered in a game like that. Was it Davidson’s defense or our offense?”
Fancher said. “I think that’s objective. I’d like to say we missed some easy looks. Bob McKillop would probably say they played great defense. That’s the way it goes. They are a very good defensive team. But I can remember some Donterious Hughes layups that were just inside the bucket that we didn’t finish. Then 20 times when we turned the basketball over, we didn’t get shots at the goal. It’s hard to make those, but they’re very good defensively.”
Davidson looked like it would blow Appalachian State out when, after the Mountaineers took a 5-4 lead, went on an 11-0 run to take a 15-5 advantage. It was 19-10 Wildcats when Appalachian State went on a 9-0 run, capped by two Jeremi Booth foul shots, tied the game 19-19 with 10:38 left in the first half.
Davidson led 37-34 when Curry hit a jumper, two foul shots and then two more free throws following a technical foul called on the Appalachian State bench. Lovedale added a free throw to give the Wildcats a 44-34 lead.
“Appalachian State never quit,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “We knocked them hard early and they came back and that is a credit to coach Fancher and his players.”
Appalachian State guard Jeremi Booth, who scored 21 points in the team’s win over Georgia Southern Friday, suffered a broken foot when trying to defend Curry on a layup in the second half. Booth finished with four points.
Davidson 84, ASU 68
Appalachian State (13-18)
Hunter 4-9 5-8 13, Butts 3-4 0-0 6, Sims 6-17 12-12 29, Brand 3-9 0-0 6, Hughes 0-5 1-2 1, Dowdell 0-1 0-0 0, Booth 1-4 2-2 4, Wright 2-3 0-004, Highsmith 1-2 0-0 3, Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Williamson 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 21-58 20-24 68.
Archambault 0-1 2-2 2, Rossiter 3-5 0-2 6, Lovedale 7-12 3-6 17, Paulhus Gosselin 2-4 2-2 6, Curry 11-18 16-18 43, McKillop 1-5 0-0 2, Barr 2-8 0-2 6, Ben-eze 0-1 0-0 0, Nelms 0-0 0-0 0, Allison 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 27-57 23-33 84.
Halftime score—Davidson 44, ASU 34. 3-point goals—ASU 6-19 (Sims 5-12, Highsmith 1-2, Brand 0-4, Booth 0-1), Davidson 7-18 (Curry 5-10, Barr 2-4, Archambault 0-1, McKillop 0-3). Rebounds—ASU 44 (Williamson 9), Davidson 33 (Lovedale 14). Assists—ASU 12 Five players with two), Davidson 15 (McKillop 7). Turnovers—ASU 20, Davidson 8. Total fouls—ASU 27, Davidson 19. Fouled out—ASU Brand. Technical fouls—ASU bench, Davidson bench. Att. —NA.