ASHEVILLE A sense of inevitability quickly settled into U.S. Cellular Arena a few seconds after Davidson and Furman tipped off a Southern Conference tournament basketball quarterfinal Saturday.
It didn't take the Wildcats (23-7) long to establish themselves against the Paladins (15-16) on the way to a 73-54 victory, moving them into the semifinals tonight against Elon, which beat Georgia Southern in the Saturday's late quarterfinal.
Davidson jumped to a 14-6 lead and never eased up. Three players scored 17 points (forwards De'Mon Brown and Chris Czerapowicz and freshman guard Tyler Kalinoski) for the Wildcats, who are the North Division's No. 1 seeds.
The Wildcats had beaten the Paladins by 21 and 18 points in the regular season. There was little Furman could do to change the outcome this time.
"Davidson has so many guys who can score inside and out," said Furman forward Colin Reddick. "Anybody can kill you at any moment. You've got to give them credit."
Davidson forward Jake Cohen, the league's player of the year as chosen by the media, was held to six points.
"Balance comes from people willing to play a role, whatever that might be," said Wildcats coach Bob McKillop. "Guys like Jake don't look at the stat sheet at the end of the game other than to see what we got in points as a team. This is a caring group of guys. No one hunts their shots."
That mindset was perhaps best highlighted in the second half when Cohen found Brooks (the coaches' league player of the year) for a dunk that gave the Wildcats a 52-38 lead and forced Furman coach Jeff Jackson to call a timeout.
Cohen was met by several players coming off the court - and also by a fired-up McKillop.
"We didn't really focus on any one or two players," said Jackson, whose team was led by Colin Reddick and Charlie Reddick's 10 points apiece. "They're a pretty complete team. They have enough depth with different guys to really hurt you."
Kalinoski's 17 points were a career high. He was 6-of-8 shooting (including 5-of-7 from 3-point range). He also had four assists.
"That was a joy for me to see," said McKillop. "He shoots that way in practice all the time. He works at it feverishly. It was good to see him get rewarded."