Cougars fall to Davidson in SoCon title game 74-55


ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Davidson cruised to its 12th Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship title, 74-55, over College of Charleston on Monday night in Arena at U.S. Cellular Center. The win moves the Wildcats to 26-7 on the season, while CofC falls to 24-10.

It was a wire-to-wire win in front of a raucous crowd as Davidson's students came en masse as the team's sixth man. Tournament Most Outstanding Player De'Mon Brooks led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds. J.P. Kuhlman added 14 for the winners.

Andrew Lawrence paced the Cougars with 19 points on the evening. Adjehi Baru added 11. CofC was limited to 29.8 percent shooting from the field (17-for-57) including a mere 1-for-10 (10%) from 3-point range. It marked season lows for field goal percentage, 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage

Charleston made an early run in the second half after falling behind 12, 38-26, on a Kuhlman trey to open the scoring. Baru hit two free throws, Lawrence a jumper in the lane and Baru again in the paint to get within six, 38-32, with 18:07 to play. That's as close as it would get as Davidson methodically put the Cougars away.

The score drifted into double digits and back to eight over the course of the next 11 minutes. Brooks sent it into double figures for good with a layup, 61-50, at 7:47. That started a run of nine unanswered points and 13-2 overall to get to a 20-point cushion, 72-52, on a layup by a streaking Jake Cohen on a nice feed from Nik Cochran with just under three minutes to play.

Jake Belford's layup with 1:40 remaining posted the largest lead of 21, 74-53. Trent Wiedeman made a couple of free throws in the last minute-and-a-half for the final tally of 74-55.

Cohen had 12 points, five boards and three blocks on the night, while Cochran added 10 points and four assists. The Wildcats shot 54.9 percent (28-for-51) from the field, but just 25.0 percent (4-for-16) from beyond the arc. They did shoot 68.6 percent (24-for-35) inside the arc. That led to a 42-24 edge in points in the paint.

Davidson got off to a great start, scoring the game's first seven points. Lawrence's 3-pointer at 14:44 made it a 10-8 game. The Wildcats went on a 12-2 spurt to jump out by 12, 24-12, for the largest lead of the first half, on a layup by Brooks.

CofC battled back with a 14-7 stretch to get within five, 31-26, on a Lawrence free throw. Chris Czerapowicz and Kuhlman ended the first half with scores as Kuhlman drove to the basket for a layup with a second to spare and a 35-26 lead.

{}he Wildcats hold the SoCon record with 12 tournament titles over Chattanooga and West Virginia with 10 apiece. It is the seventh of the Bob McKillop era and fifth in the last eight seasons, which is the most impressive run of conference crowns since the Mocs' four in five years from 1993-97. Since 2002, only Davidson (six), UTC (two) and Wofford (two) have won the league's tourney.

The all-tourney first team included Brooks, Cohen, Baru, Lawrence and Trey Sumler (Western Carolina). Kuhlman, Cochran, Lucas Troutman (Elon), Derrell Armstrong (UNCG) and Nathan Healy (Appalachian State) comprised the second team.

Davidson now awaits news of its NCAA tournament site. Selection Sunday is March 17 airing at 6 p.m. on CBS. The Cougars also wait for news of their postseason landing spot.