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Big first half helps Davidson hammer Ga. Southern

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent

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DAVIDSON A month ago, Davidson was struggling to put the ball in the basket consistently during a tough non-conference schedule that included five AP Top 25 opponents.

That hasn’t been a problem lately for the Wildcats, who put together one of their best opening halves of the season in beating Georgia Southern 82-52 on Saturday at Belk Arena.

De’Mon Brooks and Brian Sullivan each scored 21 points, and three other players finished in double figures for Davidson (10-11, 6-1 Southern Conference), which has won three straight and six of its last seven.

Jake Belford and Tom Droney added 11 points each and Tyler Kalinoski had 10 for Davidson, which remains in second place in the conference with league leader Chattanooga (14-8, 8-0) up next on Thursday.

“We just struggled to shoot the ball at the beginning of the year,” Sullivan said. “When shots are going in, you start to feel better about everything. You play harder on defense, and you get it going on offense.

“We’ve been shooting the ball really well lately, and that’s given us a big spark.”

That was evident in the first half, as the Wildcats shot 63 percent (17 of 27) from the field, hit 6 of 9 3-pointers and went 13 of 13 from the free throw line.

But it was what Davidson did on defense that set the tone, holding the Eagles (9-12, 2-4) to 32.4 percent shooting (11 of 34) – including 1 of 7 3-pointers – in opening up a 53-25 halftime lead.

The Wildcats led by as many as 37 points midway through the second half, going up 68-32 on a Brooks layup with 11:28 remaining.

Davidson finished the game shooting 50.9 percent (28 of 55) – the fifth time in seven SoCon games the team has shot 50 percent or better, after doing it just three times in 14 non-conference games. Georgia Southern shot 33.3 percent (21 of 63). The Wildcats also outrebounded the Eagles 46-26.

Georgia Southern’s Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey – the SoCon’s No. 1 and No. 5 scorers at 20.6 and 17.6 points, respectively – scored just 24 combined points Saturday, on 9 of 29 shooting. Hewitt finished with 13 points and Bussey 11.

“The guys are shooting with confidence,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “But I’m also pleased with our defense. They’ve got some outstanding scorers … and we did a very good job, collectively and individually, playing defense.”

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