for this game

Curry scores 40 as Davidson rallies past Gonzaga

Mar 21, 2008 - 10:26 PM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- It was Gonzaga that began the national focus on the "mid-major" darling, Stephen Curry and Davidson picked up the mantle on Friday.

Curry scored 30 of his 40 points in the second half Friday to lead the 10th-seeded Wildcats to an 82-76 victory over No. 7 Gonzaga in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Claiming its first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1969, Davidson (27-6) continued a stellar campaign. The team went 20-0 in the Southern Conference, won the league tournament and holds the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games.

Most of those achievements would likely have gone unnoticed without the work that Gonzaga had done over the past 10 years, building up a program that can consistently contend with the elite conferences.

"About seven or eight years ago, Gonzaga set the bar for teams that were not affiliated with the high-powered, major conferences in terms of excellence," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "They have elevated and raised that bar significantly so that in the course of a 10-year period, they have reached a status without being conference affiliated as an elite program.

"For us to come in here and get a stamp on our program with our first victory in postseason play in close to 40 years was a very challenging task and one that I think the entire Davidson community can be very, very proud of."

The Wildcats have begun to follow in the footsteps of the Bulldogs, thanks in large part to the talent of Curry.

Entering the tournament fifth in the nation in scoring, Curry showed his tremendous skill of shooting the basketball by taking over the game when Davidson really needed it.

While Curry mentioned that the big-time stage hardly affected his mindset, his coach did not mind using a couple of theatrical references when describing his star player's game.

"It was like an opening-night star performance on Broadway, and he was the star, but he had a great cast with him," McKillop said. "The audience was sensational. There was a lot of music, great songs, lots of dancing. So it was a Broadway opening that really got great reviews in the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and Newsday, and the Times."

The son of former NBA player Dell Curry, the sophomore guard sank six 3-pointers and scored 11 consecutive points at one point after the break as the Wildcats overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half.

Davidson next will face second seed Georgetown in Sunday's second round.

"I mean, this is just a great team effort," Curry said. "We were down the whole game pretty much and towards the end of the second half, we had to come up with some stops and Andrew (Lovedale) came up with some huge rebounds down the stretch and got us extra possessions and extra shots.

"It has not really sunk in yet but we have more work to do in the tournament. Going to enjoy this for a little bit, and then move on."

Falling behind 54-43 after Jeremy Pargo's 3-pointer for Gonzaga with 15:42 remaining, Davidson rallied behind Curry, who completed a three-point play and connected on two shots from the arc to slice the deficit to 58-54 with 12:22 left.

Curry, who fell a point shy of matching his 41-point effort in a comeback against UNC Greensboro on February 13, knotted the score at 62-62 on another 3-pointer with 9:46 to play.

Finishing 11-of-22 from long range, the Wildcats did miss a chance to take the lead on a 3-point attempt by Max Gosselin with 8:31 remaining, but Stephen Rossiter hit the weak side and laid the ball in after getting the rebound for a 66-65 lead.

Although it was able to take a 70-67 lead on another layup by Rossiter with 6:45 left, Davidson saw the game go back and forth until Curry buried hit final 3-pointer to break a 74-74 tie with 1:04 to go.

"You have to appreciate when a guy steps up like that and plays that hard for his team," Pargo said of Curry. "We tried to change some things, and he's a great player and he made shots."

Andrew Lovedale, who tracked down an offensive rebound to set up Curry's game-deciding basket, also hauled in Austin Daye's miss from the arc on the other end and was foul. He sank both free throws for a 79-74 cushion with 37 seconds to play.

"That was a great college basketball game," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "There were guys making plays and the effort was 100 percent on both ends and executing out of timeouts was great on both sides and comes down to a play with a minute left in the game, basically, and then we had an open three at the other end that we miss and it would have tied it."

Curry added three free throws down the stretch to seal the win. He finished 14-of-22 from the field and grabbed five steals.

With his father in the attendance, Curry pointed to him a number of time after making big shots, an act of respect.

"Well, he's been there my whole life," Curry said. "I think the things I do on the court kind of come from him, so he's in my head during the game and I like to keep him involved."

Jason Richards scored 15 points and handed out nine assists and Lovedale finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats, who shot 49 percent (28-of-57).

Freshman Steven Gray had seven 3-pointers for 21 points for the Bulldogs (25-8), who lost in the first round for a second straight year.

Pargo scored 18 points and Josh Heytvelt added 12 and eight boards for Gonzaga, which made just 8-of-14 free throws.