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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
Dale Goodwin, Director
Peter Tormey, Associate Director
|TRACKING THE ZAGS IX: Davidson Upsets Zags' Hopes|
March 21, 2008
By Peter Tormey
RALEIGH, N.C. – Tenth-seed Davidson, powered by the roars of a home-state crowd chanting "Sweet Caroline" and 40 points from sensational sophomore guard Stephen (Steff-an) Curry, upset No. 7-seed Gonzaga 82-76 in a first-round matchup Friday afternoon in the Midwest/Detroit Region in the RBC Center.
Curry’s quickness allowed him to weave around innumerable screens to exploit the tiniest of openings in the Bulldogs’ multiple defensive sets to score 30 in the second half and send the 25-8 Bulldogs packing after a first-round loss for the second-straight year. (Indiana beat the Zags in a first-round game in last year’s NCAA Tournament.) The 27-6 Wildcats extended their nation’s longest active winning streak to 23 games and advanced to a second-round game here Sunday against No. 2-seed Georgetown. The 28-5 Hoyas beat the 15-seed Maryland Baltimore County (24-9) 66-47 here later Friday. The winner of Sunday’s game advances to Detroit and the Sweet Sixteen.
The victory was Davidson’s first in the NCAA Tournament since 1969 when Lefty Driesell led the Wildcats to a win over St. John’s.
Gonzaga freshman Steven Gray buried seven three-pointers and finished with 21 to pace the Bulldogs, who took a 41-36 lead into halftime, but the irascible Wildcats kept clawing their way back and took the lead for the first time on Stephen Rossiter’s layup with approximately 8:20 left on the clock. Tied at 74, Curry buried a three-pointer to put the Wildcats up 77-74 with approximately 1 minute left. Bulldogs’ freshman Austin Daye missed a three-pointer, and Davidson’s Andrew Lovedale made two free-throws to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 79-74 with 37 seconds left before Gray clinked a three-point attempt off the rim and the Wildcats began to celebrate. Curry insured the win, making three of four free-throws against Pargo’s two points from the charity stripe to finish scoring.
“We came out and didn’t execute on some of the things we talked about all year, myself included, and anytime you have 19 turnovers in a game it usually ends up bad for you,” said Pargo who complimented Curry, a second-team All-America, for his skill and mental toughness.
“He’s a very resilient guy and he knocked down shots,” Pargo said. “You have to appreciate it when a guy steps up . . . we tried some things but he’s a great player and he made some shots.”
Curry recognized the home-court advantage but said it did not impact his game-day routine of treating each game the same way so as to avoid getting caught up in the spotlight on nationally televised games.
“They (fans) were in the game and loud all the time. That is the benefit of being close to home. It was a pleasure to play in front of our own fans,” said Curry, who has averaged 25 points a game this year. “I try to play for God, and I try to give Him the glory to try to take the attention off myself. It’s not me, it’s Him because He gave me the talent.”
Gonzaga Coach Mark Few he thought the game came down the final minute when the Bulldogs had the offensive rebound but did not squeeze the ball, allowing the Wildcats to steal it, score and set up the win.
“They (Wildcats) are trained to find him (Curry) in a scramble situation . . . . it doesn’t have a lot to do with our defense,” Few said. “They find him, they know their roles and we actually guarded him as well as we could.”
Few also praised GU seniors Abdullahi Kuso and David Pendergraft for being selfless and hard-working team players who have been outstanding leaders.
“I have learned so much from Pendo and Kuso. The play team and are members of a team the way we should all be,” Few said. “They are the best ambassadors we have for our program.”