In the wake of his team’s first loss of the season, a 95-78 defeat against Clemson last Thursday, Davidson men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop stressed defensive improvements.
Those strides presented themselves in ensuing wins against Missouri and Arizona State. But a matchup against Charlotte’s high-powered offense on Saturday, the Wildcats’ first game at John Belk Arena since returning from the Tire Pro Invitational in Orlando, created concerns.
Even against the 49ers, though, Davidson’s defense still shined, holding Charlotte to its fewest points of the season in a 79-57 win — their fourth straight in the Battle for the Hornets' Nest Trophy.
The Wildcats (4-1) dominated from the opening tip, extending their lead to as many as 20 points in the first half. The 49ers (3-2) briefly awoke from their offensive slumber, trimming the deficit to 12 points behind a 12-4 run, but Davidson never relinquished control.
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A 43-28 halftime lead in hand, the Wildcats forced Charlotte to miss 15 of its first 17 shots to open the second half. Then, with 10 minutes remaining, 49ers coach Mark Price released his frustration.
Disgruntled with the previous call, the second-year coach was issued a technical after yelling at a nearby official. Davidson made the ensuing free throws, pushing its lead to 64-32.
The moment, in a sense, represented the exasperation the 49ers felt throughout the game, as the Wildcats limited Charlotte to 27.9 percent shooting in their best defensive performance of the season.
Three who mattered
Jordan Watkins, Davidson: The junior guard led all scorers with 22 points while going 7-for-9 from the field. He made six of his eight 3-point attempts.
Will Magarity, Davidson: The junior forward registered a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Najee Garvin, Charlotte: The freshman forward provided quality minutes off the bench for the 49ers, scoring 12 points and adding four rebounds.
▪ After allowing 14 offensive boards in their loss to USC Upstate on Tuesday, the 49ers allowed the Wildcats to register four offensive rebounds within the first 6 1/2 minutes. This played an integral role in Davidson seizing control early on.
▪ Davidson missed just one free throw, going 14-for-15.
▪ Charlotte had made double-digit 3-pointers in each of its first four games this season. Davidson, however, limited the 49ers to 5-for-17 on 3-pointers.
▪ The Wildcats won despite leading scorers Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge combining for just 26 points.
They said it
“Playing in that venue against those kinds of teams just gives you an exposure of who you are, what you need to work on, what is strong about you and what is weak about you. To win like we did after losing like we did gave us a jolt of energy. I think our guys are playing with confidence now.” – McKillop on how his team has responded to its only loss.