NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Stephen Curry's not always
perfect. He was pretty close in this year's Southern Conference
Curry, the son of former NBA standout Dell Curry, scored 29
points Saturday night and Davidson returned to the NCAA Tournament
with a 72-65 win over College of Charleston in the conference
The Southern Conference freshman of the year totaled 79 points
in three games in the tourney and won the MVP award as the Wildcats
(29-4) secured their second straight title and trip to the NCAAs.
But when Curry was out alone in the title game and prepped for a
highlight-style jam, he muffed it, the ball bounding off the rim
"Big stage and [I] kind of choked on it,'' Curry said smiling.
That was about the only thing that went wrong for the Wildcats'
smooth guard this week.
Curry had 20 points in Davidson's tournament-opening win over
Chattanooga, then 30 in the semifinals against Furman.
Against College of Charleston, Curry scored 15 first-half points
with Davidson point guard Jason Richards on the bench with two
fouls, then nailed two critical 3-pointers to help wipe out the
Cougars' 56-51 lead.
"Steph can miss a dunk. Steph can turn it over," Davidson
coach Bob McKillop said. "But he makes a steal, he makes a
rebound, he makes that 3 off the double screen. He makes big plays
at big times. That's what sets him apart, not just in our program
but in the conference and across the country."
Curry grew up in Charlotte while his father was with the Hornets
and got to know McKillop when he played youth baseball with the
Curry didn't have much attention coming out of high school. Even
if he did, McKillop says Curry felt most comfortable around
Curry's not bitter about bigger schools in more prominent
leagues that missed out.
"I don't know what they're thinking, but it wasn't my main
mission to try and work on this year," he said. "I'm in a great
situation right now with a great coach where we can play together
and win a championship."
Curry and the Wildcats also spoiled the fairy tale run of
College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins, who had hoped to lead a
third school to the NCAAs in his first season back in the college
"Obviously, it could've been an incredible fantasy story,"
said Cremins, who hadn't coached since leaving Georgia Tech in
2000. "But it didn't happen. I'm glad we made a run at it."
Curry was perhaps the biggest reason.
Curry hit two straight 3-pointers in the second half to tie it
at 59. Boris Meno followed with a three-point play to give Davidson
a lead it would never give up.
When it was over, Curry leaped high, arm extended to signal
Davidson was again No. 1 in the Southern Conference.
It was the Wildcats' third title since 2002 and fourth under
McKillop -- another New Yorker who made good coaching down South.
Davidson already surpassed the school record for victories set
by Lefty Driesell's 1968-69 team that finished 27-3. Now McKillop
moved past Driesell in NCAA trips by a Davidson coach.
Now, McKillop will see if he can match the NCAA success Driesell
brought the Wildcats -- Lefty's teams were 5-4 in the tournament.
After last year's NCAA experience, "I think we'll have a
different mind-set," McKillop said.
Davidson has lost its opening game in its three previous NCAA
appearances, including a 70-62 defeat by second-seeded Ohio State
Meno added 14 points for Davidson.
The biggest question coming into this one was how much stamina
Draper and the Cougars had left after their thrilling 89-87
overtime victory over Appalachian State in Friday night's
Draper had a career-high 38 points against the Mountaineers and
looked just as crisp at the start against Davidson, scoring the
Cougars' first five points.
But Draper didn't hit another shot the rest of the game.
"I wouldn't say I was tired. My body just kept feeling tight,"
Draper said. "I tried to forget it."
With Draper off target -- he had eight 3s in the semifinal
victory -- Charleston struggled to find some offense. The Cougars
were just 3-of-14 behind the arc in the second half.