Davidson stops College of Charleston, 77-68
DAVIDSON, N.C. — For the first 15 minutes of the game Saturday night, Davidson and the College of Charleston exchanged body blows like two top heavyweight prize fighters.
The Wildcats and Cougars were picked to contend for the Southern Conference men’s basketball title this season, and both were in midseason form for most of this showdown.
But in the end, the Wildcats, the defending SoCon champions, had too much depth, too much experience and too much of a homecourt advantage for the Cougars.
De’Mon Brooks, the reigning SoCon player of the year, scored 17 points and JP Kuhlman and Nik Cochran each added 15 points to lead four players in double figures as Davidson beat the College of Charleston, 77-68, Saturday night before a crowd of about 4,844 at the John M. Belk Arena.
“It’s always a fight when we play the College of Charleston,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “The rivalry we’ve had over the years with the College of Charleston has been intense and the games we’ve played have been fantastic. We know it’s always going to be a battle to the end and tonight was no exception. When they leave for the (Colonial Athletic Association), I’m going to miss these games.”
The Cougars (12-7, 4-3 SoCon) were coming off a disappointing road loss at Georgia Southern on Thursday night. But any lingering hangover from that loss appeared to be long gone as the Cougars came out and played inspired basketball.
“I was really proud of the guys and the way we played tonight,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “I can’t fault our effort. I thought it was great. It was our fifth game in 10 days, third straight game on the road, and I thought we left everything on the floor. Davidson is just a very, very good basketball team with a lot of depth and experience. They’ve got four seniors that have played in games like this and it showed.”
The Cougars and Wildcats matched each other basket for basket for the first 15 minutes of the game. But with the score tied at 29, the Wildcats went on a 12-2 run to grab a 42-31 lead on a Brooks three-point play with 1:57 left before halftime.
“We had some breakdown in our transition defense,” Wojcik said. “We’ve been a really good transition defense team most of the season. We got caught a couple of times, and give Davidson credit — they were able to convert.”
The Wildcats, who opened up a 13-point lead midway through the second half, were never able to deliver the knockout blow.
A 3-pointer from Andrew Lawrence started a 12-4 run by the Cougars. Matt Sunberg, who came off the bench to score eight points, connected on a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 64-59 with 6:12 to play.
“I’m really proud of the way we came back,” said Lawrence, who finished with a team-high 17 points and scored his 1,000th career point. “We didn’t quit. We hung in there. We knew it was going to be a tough place to play. Matt came off the bench and hit some huge shots. We just couldn’t get a stop down the stretch.”
Brooks scored on back-to-back possessions and Kuhlman hit a layup and then a huge 3-pointer with 95 seconds to play to put the game out of reach for the Wildcats.
“De’Mon is so tough to guard in the post,” Kuhlman said. “He’s a beast down there and then he opens things up for everyone else.”
Adjehi Baru and Anthony Thomas each scored 13 points for the Cougars.
The College of Charleston will host The Citadel on Thursday night at TD Arena.