DAVIDSON, N.C. - Celebrating the 25-year career of Bob McKillop, Davidson College named the basketball court at Belk Arena after the silver-haired coach Saturday.
But for a while there, it looked like the first game on McKillop Court might be a Wildcats loss. Shuffling its lineup, playing at slow-down pace and switching defenses often, an underdog Citadel team was tied with Davidson with 13:44 to play and trailed by just five with seven minutes left.
But the Wildcats, currently the hottest team in the Southern Conference, went on a 21-7 run down the stretch and pulled away for a 62-43 win before 4,193 fans at Belk Arena.
Senior De'Mon Brooks scored 23 points for the Wildcats (12-11, 8-1), while freshman Brian White came off the bench to score 10 points for The Citadel (4-20, 0-9), which has lost 12 straight games.
Coming off a 31-point loss at Georgia Southern - and facing a Davidson team that pummeled Chattanooga, previously unbeaten in SoCon play, by 43 on Thursday - Citadel coach Chuck Driesell ordered up some changes.
Chief among those was a slow pace that held Davidson, the top-scoring team in the SoCon, to a season-low 46 shots.
"Davidson likes a lot of possessions," Driesell said. "We try to play like that, but we're not at their level yet. So we felt we needed to slow the tempo down, and changing up defenses helped that as well."
The Bulldogs trailed by just 24-20 at half and were tied at 31-31 with 13:44 left. They were down just 41-36 when P.J. Horgan scored with 7:06 left.
"Things were playing out exactly as we hoped they would," Driesell said. "The guys did a super job with a day and a half to adjust to a very talented team, and they handled themselves in good fashion."
But the Wildcats were too much down the stretch, as Jake Belford and Tyler Kalonoski each made two 3-pointers in the final 6:41, while Brian Sullivan added a fifth trey.
Brooks hit 9 of 10 shots for 23 points to go with eight rebounds, and Belford added 11 points.
"Brooks is probably the player of the year in the SoCon," Driesell said. "He's clearly playing that way. We did everything we could to keep him from having a big game. He was the difference in the game."
Driesell started forwards C.J. Bray and P.J. Horgan together for the first time, with Ashton Moore moving to point guard, and guard Marshall Harris and White coming off the bench.
"Brian did a super job adjusting to being reserve," Driesell said. "Our guys will get better from this game. They gave it everything they've got and got beat by a pretty good team."
The Bulldogs will travel Thursday to Appalachian State, an 83-76 loser to Elon on Saturday.
"We're going around the league a second round now," Driesell said. "We've got to learn from our mistakes the first time around and have a better second half."