DAVIDSON Davidson coach Bob McKillop has long preached that no Southern Conference game should be taken for granted, no matter if the Wildcats are playing the conference’s best teams or the worst.
If McKillop’s players needed any proof of that, just looking at the game tape from the Wildcats’ 87-85 overtime loss Thursday night to Elon at Belk Arena will offer plenty of evidence.
De’Mon Brooks scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and three other players finished in double figures for Davidson (7-11, 3-1), which saw two winning streaks – a 16-game SoCon streak and a 23-game home conference streak – come to an end.
The Wildcats nearly pulled this one out, though – Jake Belford came up with a steal on the Phoenix’s final inbounds play and put up a 3-pointer from the corner. But the shot lipped in and out of the basket.
“We’ve had a lot of difficult losses this year,” McKillop said. “Knowing our guys, they’ll learn from it and get better from it. We had great energy and great fire in overtime, we just came up short.”
Yet on Thursday, the Wildcats looked to be in good position to extend both winning streaks.
Davidson had rallied from a double-digit deficit in the first half to tie the score at 37-37 at halftime. The Wildcats then pulled ahead by 14 points, 74-60, with 4:45 left.
That’s when Davidson faltered, and the Phoenix (10-8, 3-1) took advantage, whittling down the Wildcats’ lead until Phoenix guard Jack Isenbarger’s 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left tied the score at 76-76 and forced overtime.
“We played to protect the lead, instead of playing with the same aggression we had in building that 14-point lead,” Brooks said.
Davidson had another lead midway through the extra period, but Brooks’ fifth foul opened the door for Elon. Lucas Troutman (28 points, 12 rebounds) hit two free throws with 1:57 left to put the Phoenix ahead to stay.
Belford’s last-chance shot reminded Elon coach Matt Matheny of a similar situation four years earlier, when Steve Rossiter hit a 3-pointer to give Davidson a 99-96 double-OT win at the end of the 2009-2010 season.
“I thought it was going in,” Matheny said of Belford’s shot. “When we threw that pass, that (Rossiter’s shot) replayed in my mind. Fortunately, it didn’t go in this time.”
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