Stephen Curry’s Magical Run in the NCAA Tournament
The reigning MVP and the best shooter in the NBA, Stephen Curry, finds a way to amaze fans across the world each and every night he steps foot on a NBA court. Whether it be draining a half court shot, blowing past a defender with his nifty handles, or hitting a buzzer beater with defenders in his face, the guy knows how to get you off your seat.
Before he took the NBA by storm, Curry etched his name in NCAA Division I Basketball history. In the 2008 NCAA Tournament, he took Davidson College, a small college in North Carolina to places it had never been before. In honor of the NCAA Tournament being played now, we take a look back at Curry and Davidson’s improbable, but exciting run in the tournament.
In the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Davidson Wildcats took on the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga was able to contain Curry in the first half holding him to only 10 points while opening a five-point halftime lead. Let’s just say they weren’t able to contain him for long. Curry drained a three pointer 20 seconds into the second half, and then seconds later dazzled though the defense flipping a circus shot while being fouled. Curry brought Davidson all the way back from 11 points down to take the lead. Gonzaga tied the game at 74 with 1:45 left in the game, setting the stage for Curry’s first ionic moment of the tournament. Junior forward, Andrew Lovedale chased down an offensive rebound and passed it out to Curry, who nailed a three pointer with under a minute to play to give them the lead. Davidson went on to win 82-76 and after the game, CBS announcer, Jim Nantz said ““America had heard about him, now they know about him!”
Next up was second seeded Georgetown, led by the dominant 7-foot 2 center Roy Hibbert. Davidson’s season appeared to be over as they trailed to a talented Georgetown team by 17 points at halftime. Once again Curry struggled in the first half, but went off in the second half, scoring 25 of his 30 points while leading Davidson to a remarkable come from behind victory to head to the sweet sixteen for the first time since 1969.
In Davidson’s first sweet sixteen matchup since 1969 they took on the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin was an incredible team that led the nation in scoring defense, and had a guard named Michael Flowers who was the supposed “Curry Stopper”. It looked like the Badgers were the team to end Davidson’s dream but they weren’t. Curry lit Wisconsin up for 33 points in a 73-56 rout! He and the Wildcats were one win away from the Final Four.
The Kansas Jayhawks were the nation’s best team, and Davidson’s most daunting task in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks were led by future pros Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, and Darrell Arthur. This did not affect Davidson as they game was close throughout. Kansas rotated defenders on Curry, which wore him down and caused him to miss 16 of his 25 shots, but it didn’t keep him from still firing away. With Davidson down 5 and under a minute remaining in the game, Curry stepped back to create space and nailed a three pointer cutting the deficit to two. Kansas missed an opportunity on their end to increase their lead, giving Davidson one final shot at an immense upset. As seconds ticked away Curry had the ball in his hands and a chance to send Davidson to the Final Four. However, Curry was doubled teamed and forced to pass the ball to his backcourt teammate, Jason Richards. Richard was one Davidson’s best players as he averaged 13 points during the season. Richards fired from about 10 feet behind the arc, but a bit to the right of the basket. “I was confident,” Richards says. “From my angle it looked like it was going in. “Of course, it didn’t.” Kansas won the game 59-57.
Even though Curry and Davidson weren’t able to make it to the Final Four and have a shot to win a National Title, they still had a remarkable and exciting run in the NCAA tournament. Everyone fell in love with Curry and he sure gave people a preview of what to expect in the NBA.