CULLOWHEE Davidson coach Bob McKillop had a feeling his players were due for a good shooting game, based just on how practices have gone the past few days.
Yet he didn’t expect what the Wildcats delivered Thursday in taking an 82-77 victory against Western Carolina at the Ramsey Center.
Chris Czerapowicz had 19 points and led four players in double figures for Davidson (9-11, 5-1), which has won two straight and holds second place in the Southern Conference standings, 11/2 games behind Chattanooga (13-8, 7-0).
Jack Gibbs and Tyler Kalinoski added 15 points each and De’Mon Brooks had 12 for the Wildcats, who also outrebounded the Catamounts (11-10, 4-2) 40-25 and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.
“When we’re feeling good, the whole team gets a certain amount of energy,” Czerapowicz said. “Everyone just started hitting.”
Davidson shot 72 percent from the field – including 9 of 12 on 3-pointers – in the first half, the first time in four years the Wildcats have shot better than 70 percent in a half.
Davidson went on to shoot 57.1 percent (28-49) from the field, and its 10 of 17 3-pointers (58.8 percent) represented the Wildcats’ fourth-best game, percentage-wise, all-time.
“We have terrific shooters,” McKillop said. “They were hot in the shoot-around (before the game), and we’ve been very, very hot in practice.
“Our guys are feeling a lot more relaxed about their shooting, and that was across the board.”
Still, Western Carolina managed to make things interesting. Its defense forced Davidson into a season-high 22 turnovers, leading to a 23-5 advantage in scoring off turnovers.
That allowed the Catamounts to whittle a 38-20 Wildcats lead with 6 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first half to 47-41 by halftime, and to twice pull within two points in the final five minutes of the second half.
However, Davidson’s free-throw shooting came through in the final two minutes as the Wildcats made 10 of 12 from the line and eight of eight over the final 45 seconds. The Wildcats finished 16 of 21 for the game.
“We’ve gotten better in practice, and we’ve been doing that better and better in games,” Kalinoski said. “If our team learns to do that down the road, by the end of March we could be deadly.”
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