With J.P. Kuhlman sidelined with an ankle injury and preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year Jake Cohen picking up two fouls in the first seven minutes of the game, Davidson needed someone to step up in their Old Spice Classic semifinal game against West Virginia.
Junior guard Chris Czerapowicz did just that for the Wildcats, as he tallied 15 points and nine rebounds to help lead Davidson to the 63-60 victory. Davidson advances to Sunday’s title game, where they will play either No. 17 Gonzaga or Oklahoma.
Cohen, who played just 13 minutes due to foul trouble, finished with 11 points and reigning SoCon Player of the Year De’Mon Brooks scored 12 points and racked up five steals.
Juwan Staten led West Virginia with 15 points, but his attempt to tie the game in the final seconds rattled off the rim in the final seconds. Gary Browne scored 11 points off the bench and Deniz Kilicli added ten points and 11 rebounds.
Like Davidson’s Cohen, West Virginia forward Aaric Murray was saddled with foul trouble for much of his time on the floor and finished with six points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
This is a good win for the Wildcats from a “resume-building” standpoint, but the biggest aspect of the victory was the fact that Bob McKillop’s team held on to win despite the absence of Kuhlman and Cohen’s foul trouble.
Czerapowicz, who averaged 10.1 points per game last season, was a major reason for that and his three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining gave Davidson a 61-57 lead just when it looked as if West Virginia had the Wildcats on the ropes.
Brooks and Cohen may have found a way to reach double figures, but if not for the 6-7 Czerapowicz Davidson would likely be preparing for the third place game instead of the final.