Curry leads No. 23 Davidson to 68-65 win over WVa
NEW YORK (AP)—Stephen Curry kept missing. His teammates kept telling him to shoot.
Not a bad idea.
Curry, the nation’s leading scorer and one of the most popular college basketball players of this generation, fought off a terrible shooting start and took over the final 5 minutes to lead No. 23 Davidson to a 68-65 victory over West Virginia on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.
“I was frustrated but my teammates kept telling me to keep shooting,” said Curry, who missed 12 of his first 13 3-point attempts before making the last three and scoring 13 of the Wildcats’ last 15 points of the game. “I was trying to get some motion, but their defense with their long arms took that away.”
That didn’t matter to Andrew Lovedale, whose 15 points were second to Curry’s 27.
“We knew he had a dry period where he couldn’t make any shots,” Lovedale said, “but I walked up to him at a timeout and said ‘Keep shooting. We’ll get you the ball.”’
Curry got his teammates the ball as well, finishing with 10 assists, although he did have eight turnovers. He was 9-of-27 from the field, including 4-of-16 from 3-point range, but finished 4.3 points below his average. Curry entered the game shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from behind the arc.
“It doesn’t happen a lot,” Curry said, when asked about the tough shooting night. “I got a little down on myself early in the second half because I had a fresh start and continued to go bad.
“We all had our heads hanging a little bit because we couldn’t get defensive rebounds, but as a whole, we energized and pulled together down the stretch, which is what we have learned to do over the last two years.”
The last of Curry’s late 3s gave the Wildcats (7-1) the lead for good at 64-62 with 39 seconds to play.
“He made two incredibly hard shots at the end,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “The first one was a really, really hard shot where he was fading and got his feet down and we guarded that well. I hoped our length would bother him and we kept running guys at him so he couldn’t get settled with one guy on him.”
The crowd at Madison Square Garden was oohing on every shot Curry let go, many of them from behind the NBA 3-point line, which is 2 feet, 3 inches deeper than college basketball’s line.
“It’s cool to have that, but I don’t really notice during the game,” Curry said, “but it is special in a place of this magnitude. It’s something I’ll remember.”
John Flowers spent the most time covering Curry, but most of the Mountaineers (6-2) got a chance—especially because West Virginia did an excellent job of switching when Curry tried to use a teammate as a screen, forcing him farther away from the basket.
When Curry connected with just under 5 minutes to play, he turned his back at midcourt and let his shoulders slump. The crowd was back on his side and he didn’t let them down.
“He is never flustered or frustrated by any adversity that faces him,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “I don’t know how he does it, but that prevents him from having many shooting nights like he did tonight.”
Da’Sean Butler had a career-high 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for West Virginia, while freshman Devin Ebanks had 13 points and 17 rebounds.
The Mountaineers finished with a 58-32 rebound advantage, 29-12 on the offensive end.
West Virginia didn’t have second-leading scorer Alex Ruoff, who injured his shoulder in its win over Cleveland State last week, and Joe Mazzulla, the other starting guard, reinjured his shoulder early against Davidson and played only six minutes.
“Take any team and take away its two starting guards and see how they do against Davidson, and we had a chance to win the game,” Huggins said. “If we get something that goes the other way, I don’t know. We had a hard time scoring at the end of the game.”
Davidson played without senior guard Max Paulhus Gosselin, the team’s best defender, who was suspended for one game by the Southern Conference after he was charged with a flagrant foul in a weekend victory over North Carolina State.
That meant Curry had to play all 40 minutes.
“We missed Max because with him in the rotation I usually don’t play 40 minutes,” Curry said. “This was a special situation, but I worked on my endurance over the summer.”
Curry had 44 points in that win over the Wolfpack, which followed his scoreless game against the junk defense of Loyola (Md).
This was Davidson’s first appearance in Madison Square Garden since the 1972 NIT.