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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Davidson’s comeback stuns Georgetown



AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Davidson's Stephen Curry (30) shoots over Georgetown's Vernon Macklin (1) as Chris Wright (4) and Davidson's Max Paulhus Gosselin (14) look on in the second half of a second-round NCAA Midwest Regional basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, March 23, 2008.

— Stephen Curry looked tired. His soft, feathery shot was clanging off the rim. The slender, baby-faced sophomore seemed to be just another in a long line of stars bottled up by Georgetown's ferocious defense.

Davidson's run was certainly over. A good season was coming to a fitting end against one of college basketball's elite programs.

Then, as quick as Curry can get off a turnaround 3-pointer, the Wildcats staged a comeback.

Curry scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half and little Davidson rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to stun No. 2 seed Georgetown 74-70 on Sunday, sending the Wildcats to an improbable spot in the round of 16.

Davidson (28-6), which hadn't won an NCAA tournament game in 39 years before Friday, will face No. 3 seed Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional in Detroit.

"I'm numb right now," coach Bob McKillop said.

So is Georgetown (28-6), which was shooting 71 percent from the field early in the second half, had forced Curry to miss 10 of his first 12 shots and was in total command in its quest to make the Final Four for the second straight year.

But despite 14 points from Jessie Sapp, 12 from Jonathan Wallace and 63 percent shooting, Georgetown was undone by 20 turnovers - and Curry's brilliance.

The son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry and the player the big schools didn't want took over, fueled by a partisan crowd just 160 miles from campus.

"I remember being in the huddle. I forget what timeout it was, but we were down 16," said Jason Richards, who had 20 points for the Wildcats. "And coach is asking us if we're having fun. We got smiling a little bit and we got our focus off where we were and we came out and got some great stops.

"And this kid started getting on fire again, like he did the other day, and when that happens, it's tough to stop him."

Curry scored 30 of his 40 points in the second half of Davidson's comeback win over Gonzaga in the first round, and put together a fitting encore against the Hoyas. Only this time he did it against the nation's stingiest defense. Georgetown came in allowing only 57.6 points per game and 37 percent shooting.

After his awful start, Curry hit six of his last nine shots. He made five of six free throws in the final 23 seconds.

"For the most part he had guys all over him and the ball was going in," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

Curry started rolling during Davidson's 16-2 run in the second half. He converted a four-point play, buried a 3-pointer from the right wing and fed Andrew Lovedale for a layup to cut Georgetown's lead to 50-48 with 8:47 left.

Not even Thompson could draw up a defense to stop him now. Showing his lightning-quick release, Curry drilled a 3, then had a three-point play with 4:40 left that put Davidson ahead 60-58, its first lead since 2-0.

After picking up his fourth foul, Curry scored on a nifty scoop shot in the lane and hit a deep 3 to make it 65-60 Davidson with 2:56 left.

"I have confidence to shoot the ball every time I shoot it," Curry said. "In the open court, that's my game - get my feet set and knock down shots. ... When I start getting my shot going, it does feel good."

Davidson was picking up extra support from the partisan crowd by now. North Carolina fans adopted the in-state school ahead of the Tar Heels' later game against Arkansas.

Even Curry's missteps in the second half turned out OK for Davidson. He had a 3-point attempt partially blocked, but it landed in Lovedale's hands for a layup to make it 67-60.

The Hoyas' comeback bid was foiled by Curry's free-throw shooting, allowing Davidson to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 24 in the most improbable fashion.

The comeback ended the college careers of 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert and Wallace, instrumental in Georgetown's recent return to prominence.

"They've done so much for me. I just feel like I've let them down," Thompson said of his seniors. "It's a group of guys that have done everything I've asked of them for four years. They put this program on their back and put us in position where we can possibly have success in the future. I just feel bad for these guys."

As the final seconds ticked down, Curry jumped at midcourt, did a chest bump with Richards and was mobbed by the rest of his teammates.

Then, the team gathered in front of the band and sang Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," which had become the theme song during Davidson's memorable season. The Wildcats hadn't been a player in the NCAA tournament since Lefty Driesell led them to two regional finals in the 1960s.

"He was going to catch fire, and he sure did," Richards said of Curry. "We smiled. You got to have fun out there. If you're not going to have fun in the NCAA tournament, there's something wrong with you. We just kind of stayed relaxed, got him to smile finally, and I think that really got him going."


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