Will Jones – In an event that captivated the undivided attention of nearly the entire Davidson campus, Stephen Curry made an appearance at the men’s basketball game last Tuesday night against the Duquesne Dukes, where the Student cheering section was named in his honor. The event brought a reported attendance of 5,300 and tremendous amounts of hype from the student body, who began lining up as early as 5:00 outside of Baker Sports Complex to claim premier seating and their free T-shirt. ESPN’s flagship program Sportscenter even ran a special 5-minute segment in their AM report that morning on the impending ceremony, featuring clips showcasing the town, college, and, of course, Steph Curry.
In a halftime ceremony that included video highlight reels and messages of inspiration and gratitude from Head Coach Bob McKillop and President Carol Quillen, the West Stands of Belk Arena, formerly known as Section 30, was christened with redesigned wall padding emblazoned with Curry’s signature SC/30 logo. Curry expressed from a microphone at center court during the ceremony that he was deeply honored to “leave a lasting legacy in [Belk] Arena”, and sent the crowd into a frenzy when he proclaimed, in what was perhaps the quote of the evening: “I will continue representing you to the best of my abilities and my blood runs red for you guys”. Steph made sure to leave time to high five and greet the student fans and some of his former teammates in the VIP seats after the ceremony. While it was rumored that some of Curry’s Golden State teammates were in clandestine attendance at the game, we cannot confirm this to be true at this time.
The game itself was a rollercoaster affair that ultimately ended in a Davidson win. The ‘Cats jumped out to a massive 22-5 lead in the early going, thanks to some 3-point sharpshooting from freshman phenom Jon Axel Gudmundsson. The Dukes were plagued from the beginning with turnovers and foul trouble, putting the Wildcats in the double bonus 12 minutes into the first half, and inconsistent shooting saw Duquesne finish the half just 6-27 from the field. The ‘Cats went into halftime with a convincing 39-16 lead, led by scoring efforts from Jack Gibbs ‘17, Will Magarity ‘17, and Gudmundsson and an impressive 48.4 team field goal percentage.
However, the Wildcats gave the crowd a bit of a scare at the beginning of the second half, allowing Duquesne to go on a 20-6 scoring tear that cut the Davidson lead down to just 6 with 8 minutes to play. The run saw Peyton Aldridge ‘18, Andrew McAuliffe ‘17, and Magarity land in foul trouble with 11 minutes to go. Over the next 4 minutes or so, Jack Gibbs almost single-handedly dueled the Dukes offense, scoring bucket after bucket to keep the lead at 6. Finally, with less than 4 minutes to go, Gibbs pulled up in front of Curry’s court-side seat and drained a three that put the ‘Cats up by 9. Gibbs finished the game with 32 points and 7 rebounds as Davidson held on to win, 74-60.
The early second half run from Duquesne marked a somewhat disturbing trend for the ‘Cats in conference play this season of allowing teams to go on long scoring streaks in the second half. While the ‘Cats held on for the win against Duquesne, early second half scoring spurts from teams like Richmond, George Washington, and La Salle put the Wildcats in deficits that they just could not make up. All of those games resulted in losses. In a game earlier this season against Fordham, Davidson gave up a 15-4 run in the final minutes to lose the game by 6 points. While the 20-6 run by Duquesne did not have as much the first half, it is still one of the largest runs the ‘Cats have given up all season. Perhaps the key from here on out is to prevent other teams from gaining sufficient momentum after halftime to make those runs happen.
Note: Since the penning of this article, Davidson has won a road game against Fordham (84-66) and will next take on the St. Joseph’s Hawks in Philadelphia on January 31st.