|DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP)—By the third possession, Davidson’s Stephen Curry had figured it out. Loyola (Md.) was double-teaming him. Everywhere, on each possession, no matter what the scenario.
So Curry decided to test the triangle-and-2 defense taken to the ultimate extreme. He went into the corner and two defenders followed him, setting up a 4-on-3 for his teammates.
Curry decided to keep standing there, and his teammates kept scoring—for 40 minutes—in a 78-48 head-scratching win for the 24th-ranked Wildcats that will be remembered for some time.
The nation’s leading scorer was held without a point and took only three shots. But the game was never in doubt because Davidson played the entire game on a virtual power play.
All this was courtesy of a bizarre coaching move by Loyola’s Jimmy Patsos.
“We had to play against an NBA player tonight,” Patsos explained. “Anybody else ever hold him scoreless? I’m a history major. They’re going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30?”
Some will remember the catcalls Patsos received from the fans when he stuck with the defense well after the game was decided. Davidson coach Bob McKillop was so annoyed he kept Curry in the game until the final minute.
“It seemed to me they were willing to risk the game at the expense of locking Steph up,” McKillop said. “When you put two people on somebody and you do it for 30 minutes and at the end of the game, you have to wonder what the reasons for that are.”
Curry, the darling of last season’s NCAA tournament, had scored a career-high 44 points in a loss at Oklahoma this month. He followed that up with games of 30 and 39 points.
“If Oklahoma can’t stop him, how is Loyola College going to stop him?” Patsos asked.
Trouble is, Davidson (5-1) has other options, and they often scored at will even if Curry didn’t reach double figures for only the second time of his career.
Andrew Lovedale provided the muscle inside with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Bryant Barr hit six wide-open 3-pointers and scored 18 points. Will Archambault hit three more 3s and scored 13.
And Curry, coming in averaging 35 points a game, joked that he had the best seat in the house.
“Every dead ball I asked them how long they were going to do this,” Curry said he asked his shadowing defenders. “They really didn’t say anything. They weren’t very conversational about it.”
Marquis Sullivan scored 16 points and went over 1,000 for his career for the Greyhounds (2-4), who hold the distinction of being the first team to hold Curry scoreless. The trouble is they shot 34 percent and trailed by as many as 34 points.
Plus, Brett Harvey, Loyola’s top scorer coming into the game, didn’t score as he spent most the game standing next to Curry in the corner.
“I know the fans are mad at me, but I had to roll the dice as far as a coach goes. I’m not some rookie coach,” said Patsos, a former longtime assistant at Maryland. “I won a national title as a top assistant coach to Gary Williams. For 13 years I spent on Tobacco Road. I coached a couple of No. 1 picks in the draft. And we scored 48 points. That’s the problem that Loyola basketball had today.”
But Curry’s teammates also overwhelmed the undersized Greyhounds.
Lovedale missed just once in his first seven shots. Archambault then had a layup on Curry’s only assist of the first half before drilling a 3-pointer to complete an 18-0 run for a 22-9 lead.
It was the second time in the four-round NIT that Loyola surrendered 18 straight points. The Greyhounds went five minutes without scoring against Boston College and nearly seven this time.
They fell farther behind even with Curry on the bench with two fouls. He was shuttled in and out of the game over the final 10 minutes, yet Barr made four 3s to close the half for a 39-17 lead.
Barr’s fifth straight 3—with no one around him—in the first minute of the second half continued the onslaught.
Curry didn’t attempt his second shot of the game—a long straightaway 3-pointer that clanged off the rim—until 14:57 remained. He then missed a foul-line jumper in the closing minutes.
“I don’t think irritate is the word. Just confused,” Curry said. “When they’re down by that much and still allowing us to get open shots. It kind of surprised me.”
It turned out pretty good for his teammates.
“Their coach obviously wanted guys other than Steph to beat him,” Barr said. “If you’re playing 4-on-3 against us, somebody is going to hurt you.”