GREENSBORO GREENSBOROIt’s understandable that Davidson coach Bob McKillop and his players had a few flashbacks in the final five minutes of Saturday’s game against UNC Greensboro.
Less than 48 hours earlier, the Wildcats blew a double-digit lead in an overtime loss to Elon at Belk Arena, and looked to be doing the same thing against the Spartans on the road.
But Davidson’s players also learned a few things from Thursday’s loss and put them to work in pulling out a 93-82 Southern Conference victory against UNC Greensboro.
De’Mon Brooks scored 24 points, Jack Gibbs came off the bench to add 17 and Brian Sullivan had 14 for the Wildcats (8-11, 4-1), who faced a “must-win” game after Thursday’s loss snapped a 16-game regular-season conference winning streak.
“Our guys came out with their backs against the wall after a very, very difficult loss,” McKillop said. “The lesson from Thursday was to play to win those last four or five minutes. We put ourselves in that same position tonight, and we played to win down the stretch.”
Davidson shot 48.1 percent from the field (48.1 percent) and hit 8 of 16 3-pointers. But a lot of the Wildcats’ points came from the free-throw line – a season-best 35-for-39, with Gibbs going 12-for-12 – against the Spartans (10-10, 3-2).
The free-throw shooting helped Davidson overcome a poor first half from the field (37.9 percent) to take a 40-32 halftime lead. Once the Wildcats found their touch in the second half, they used a 16-4 run to take a 15-point lead, 61-46, with 10:18 remaining.
But UNC Greensboro, led by 6-foot-7 junior Nicholas Poulos’s 27 points – coming off a school-record 9-for-9 on 3-pointers – rallied to cut Davidson’s lead to six twice in the final minute, the last at 86-80 with 43 seconds remaining.
That’s when the flashbacks to Thursday’s loss – Davidson led by 14 points with less than five minutes remaining – began. But the Wildcats hit 9 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final minute and were 7-for-8 in the final 36 seconds.
“I was thinking ‘It’s Thursday all over again,’ ” Brooks said. “But I knew this time it was going to be a different outcome. We brought what we learned from Thursday, and that helped us win tonight.”
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