Big 1st half keys Citadel's fourth win in row

Cameron Wells

THE CITADEL 85, DAVIDSON 75

DAVIDSON, N.C. -- The Citadel blitzed Davidson with another smoking first half, then hung on for its fourth straight victory on Wednesday night, taking an 85-75 win over the Wildcats at Belk Arena.

Cameron Wells scored 28 points as the Bulldogs improved to 9-13 overall and evened their Southern Conference record at 5-5. The stumbling Wildcats lost their fourth straight to fall to 8-12 overall and 2-7 in the conference.

The Citadel hit its first nine shots and shot 70 percent in the first half

to seize a 46-24 lead by halftime, a performance similar to the Bulldogs' 43-15 first half in Saturday's 68-46 win over Western Carolina.

"A great first half, and we've been able to do that the last several games," said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell. "Getting off to a good start is important, and we've done that. If we can keep playing like that every half … but I'm not greedy. We beat a good team here tonight."

The Citadel survived despite having two starters, Bo Holston and Austin Dahn, foul out. Mike Groselle scored 13 points and Zach Urbanus 11, and Daniel Eykyn came off the bench to hit 7 of 8 free throws in the late going for 12 points.

"The Citadel deserves all the credit in the world," said Davidson coach Bob McKillop. "They made big plays at big times, and they diced us up and dissected us with a very efficient offense. They got us on our heels and gave us a couple of body blows that that kept us on our heels."

Down by 24 early in the second half, Davidson managed to make a game of it in the second half, closing to within eight in the final minute.

"We didn't give up, and there was such a temptation to do that," McKillop said. "We had not played very well, but we kept fighting and fighting."

Davidson climbed to within 66-52 on JP Kuhlman's 3-pointer, and Holston fouled out with 7:20 left. The Wildcats got it down to 66-56, but Wells came back with seven straight points. He banked in a 3-pointer and then hit a pullup jumper to make it 71-56, then sank a long jumper to keep the lead at 73-59 with 4:03 left.

The Wildcats could get only as close as 79-71 in the final minute.

"That's what big-time players do," Driesell said of Wells, who was 9 of 13 from the floor and 9 of 10 from the foul line. "I have a lot of respect for Cam. He made some great shots and kept the lead comfortable for us."

Nik Cochran hit 5 of 9 from 3-point range for 21 points to lead the Wildcats, who beat The Citadel, 68-53, back in December. Jake Cohen added 18 points and Kuhlman 13 for Davidson.

The Bulldogs now have eight days off and get five of their next six games at home, starting with Furman on Feb. 3 and Wofford on Feb. 5.

The Post and Courier's Jeff Hartsell compiled this report.

3-Point Field Goals -- Citadel 5-11 (Holston 0-1, Urbanus 3-6, Wells 1-2, Dahn 0-1, Eykyn 1-1); Davidson 9-30 (Cohen 1-1, McKillop 1-7, Kuhlman 2-8, Droney 0-1, Cochran 5-9, Downing 0-1, Czerapowicz 0-3). Steals -- Citadel 6 (Urbanus 2, Wells 2); Davidson 5 (Cochran 2). Blocks -- Citadel 2 (Groselle, Wells); Davidson 2 (Mann, Brooks). Turnovers -- Citadel 12 (Groselle 4); Davidson 9 (Droney 3). Technicals -- None. A -- 3,458.