Tournament time lands Davidson on the West Coast
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
Davidson College is glad to be in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, even if it begins about 2,800 miles from home.
The Wildcats are the No. 13 seed (among 16 teams) in the West Regional, and will play fourth-seeded Louisville in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday, March 15. Tip-off will be at 1:40 p.m. at the Rose Garden.
Davidson (25-7) earned the Southern Conference’s automatic bid by winning the conference tournament in double overtime against Western Carolina. The Wildcats are in the 68-team tournament for the first time since 2008, when they upset higher-seeded Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin to reach the Elite Eight.
The current Davidson team is different from the 2008 squad that drew national attention during its tournament run. Davidson’s Stephen Curry rolled up 30-points-plus games all season, including the tournament.
This season’s Wildcats are decidedly more balanced.
Forward De’Mon Brooks, a Hopewell High graduate, leads Davidson in scoring (16-point average), rebounding (6.3) and field goal percentage (53.7).
Center Jake Cohen averages 14 points and six rebounds, and has blocked 54 shots. The backcourt is solid with J.P. Kuhlman (11.1 points), Nik Cochran (11 points) and Chris Czerapowicz (10.2).
Davidson, on a five-game winning streak, is making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002.
Louisville (26-9) enters the NCAA tournament after beating Cincinnati to win the Big East Conference tournament. The Cardinals haven’t played Davidson since 1959, which was their lone meeting.
Louisville is third in the nation in defensive field goal percentage. The Cardinals are led by forward Kyle Kuric (13.1 scoring average), center Gorgul Dieng (9.4 points and 9.1 rebounds) and guard Peyton Siva (5.5. assists), who was named Most Valuable Player in the Big East Conference tournament.
The Davidson-Louisville winner will advance to play the winner of fifth-seeded New Mexico (27-6) vs. 12th-seeded Long Beach State (25-8) on Saturday, March 17.
Davidson Women’s Basketball
Davidson will play at James Madison in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15.
It will be Davidson’s second postseason bid, after the 2007 team earned a spot in the WNIT. The Wildcats (22-9) are one victory from tying the school record for wins in a season, set by the 2007 squad.
Davidson was 17-3 in the Southern Conference, and set team season records in rebounds (1,254) and blocked shots (147).
Davidson’s Michele Savage was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year by both the coaches and media, while Sophia Aleksandravicius, a junior forward, was the second player in Davidson history to be named the Southern Conference Player of the Year as voted on by the coaches.
James Madison (24-7) is led offensively by Tarik Hislop and Kirby Burkholder, who average 14.7 and 10.5 points, respectively. The winner will play the Charlotte-Wake Forest winner in the second round.
Davidson Women’s Lacrosse
Freshman Mary Leonard led the Wildcats to two victories and was named the National Lacrosse Conference’s Newcomer of the Week.
Leonard scored hat tricks (three goals) in victories against Saint Francis (Pa.), 13-9, and Siena, 14-13. The scoring outburst came in her second and third career starts.
The Wildcats’ losing streak reached seven games as they were swept in three-game series against Appalachian State to begin the Southern Conference schedule last weekend.
Davidson (4-9) will continue its conference schedule when it hosts Elon on Friday, March 16 (7 p.m.), Saturday, March 17 (2 p.m.) and Sunday, March 18 (1 p.m.).
Davidson is struggling at the plate, with a .240 team batting average. But, Calvin Sigelbaum (.357 average) and Andrew Barna (.327 and 10 RBIs) have been consistent hitters.
Davidson Women’s Tennis
Davidson lost to Elon, 6-1, in the Southern Conference opener March 10 at the Covington Tennis Courts. The Wildcats fell to 3-7 overall.
Davidson’s lone victory in the match came from the doubles team of Brites Moniz-Soares and Katharine Dicconson, who improved their season record to 5-2.
Davidson will host Western Michigan at 3 p.m. Friday, March 16, and play Boston on Saturday, March 17, in Charleston, S.C., as part of a neutral-site match.
Davidson Men’s Tennis
Davidson Mens’ Southern Conference record fell to 1-1 in a 4-3 loss at Elon on March 10.
Connor Evins and Chris Mark were the lone Davidson doubles team to score a win on the day. Nicky Kunz, Calum Gee and Evins won singles matches. Kunz continued his solid freshman campaign with his seventh singles win of the season.