McKillop took over as head coach of Davidson in 1989. He has taken the Wildcats to six NCAA Tournaments, including three tournament appearances in a row from 2006 through 2008, which was the year that Davidson made the Elite Eight and was a Stephen Curry three away from beating Kansas and going to the Final Four. The Wildcats were back in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 barely losing to Louisville in the second round.
I was fortunate enough to have gone to the NCAA Regional in Raleigh in 2008. It was truly a magical experience to watch Stephen Curry and Davidson rally to beat Gonzaga in the first round. Then in the second round game, once again Curry and the Wildcats rallied to take down the Georgetown Hoyas in front of a very pro Davidson crowd made up of mostly North Carolina fans (North Carolina lost to Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament the year before).
So during yesterday’s Charlotte vs. Central Michigan game, Matt Cayuela told me he was going to see Davidson host Wofford at 7:00 PM. It turns out that Davidson is about thirty minutes from Charlotte. Since I am still by myself in South Carolina until my house closes, I had no plans. So Matt and I got into our separate cars and went to Davidson.
Davidson is your truly classic college town, a small town with a main street with the school as the main focus. Matt suggested a place recommended by Trip Advisor called the Brick House Tavern. The Brick House Tavern is a very large restaurant/ bar/brewery that's a short walk from Main Street. It looks like it was once a large warehouse.
The hostess noted that there were two seats at the bar. My seat was right behind a tap. The female bartender said I was hiding. I noted that being near the tap is one of my favorite places.
Both of us had a Blue Ridge Burger, which had bleu cheese. I had mine with bacon and a side of mashed potatoes. Matt had his with Mac and cheese, which would have impressed my seven year old son. We each had a restaurant brewed beer, which was quite good. I recommend The Brick House Tavern highly.
Matt had already had a ticket through a Living Social deal. My deal was awaiting me at the ticket line. An older gentleman asked if I needed one ticket. He had bought a two for one ticket deal. My cost for the seat, $9.00. I thanked the very kind man who I ended up sitting next to during the game. Matt ended up sitting next to me since there were a decent number of available seats for the game.
Belk Arena seats a little over 5,000. When you enter the arena there is a main concourse with concessions as well as a downstairs with concessions and bathrooms. To make sure I would be able to drive home after a long day, I got myself a coke (there was only one size) and Matt got a drink as well. We went back up stairs to our padded seats.
The next thing you notice is that the students sit in one of two places, behind the opponent basket and behind the opponent bench. Matt noticed that it was like a high school dance. The male students sat behind the opponent’s bench while mostly female students sat behind the basket.
It was the first Southern Conference game of the season for Wofford, who along with Davidson are the two schools that have represented the conference in the NCAA Tournament six of the past seven seasons (Wofford made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011). Davidson had won their first conference game at Chattanooga on December 1st. Wofford had come into the game having won two games in a row over Winthrop and Gardner Webb. Davidson was coming off a tough home loss to North Carolina rival Charlotte.
Davidson’s first points that weren’t a shot from beyond the arc came on a De’Mon Brooks layup and one. Thus Davidson’s first points came from three point plays, six three pointers and an old fashioned three point play. Brooks then scored again on a layup and one, but missed the free throw. After nine minutes, the Wildcats were up 23-6.
Davidson’s lead swelled to twenty one, 31-10 with three and half minutes left in the first half after two Jake Cohen free throws. The fans were very much enjoying the Wildcats’ impressive play. It looked like it was going to be a blow out.
After halftime, which featured a fourth grade AAU basketball game, Faithfull hit a jumper to cut the Davidson lead to seven, 31-24? But the Wildcats responded with a 14-6 spurt over the next eight minutes. Brooks got another old fashioned three point play to put Davidson up 45-30 with twelve and a half minutes left.
But Wofford would not get any closer. Jake Cohen hit a jumper then followed with a layup to put Davidson up seven, 57-50. That would be the margin of victory as the Wildcats held off the Terriers 63-56.
For Davidson, Nik Cochran led the Wildcats and all scorers with fifteen points, including ten of eleven from the free throw line. Kalinoski was the only other Wildcats player in double figures scoring with eleven points. Four players, Cohen, Brooks, Czerapowicz and Tom Droney each had eight points. After hitting their first six three point attempts, the Wildcats went one of fourteen from beyond the arc the rest of the way.
After the game, Matt and I walked our way back to The Brickhouse parking lot. We said goodbye since both of us had long drives home. I enjoyed hanging out with Matt and was glad he told me about the Davidson game. I plan to be back at Davidson next Saturday when they host UNC Wilmington.