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Closing Difficult for Davidson, Survive Montana

A.B.C.: Always Be Closing

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

A,B,C: Always Be Closing. Any f'ing fan of Glengarry Glen Ross knows that. If you don't close, you don't get the Cadillac; you don't get the steak knives. You get fired.

Perhaps there needs to be a little of that pressure on the Davidson Wildcats. Perhaps they need to be pushed to the brink of disaster to find some closing ability in this team. Saturday, Montana almost found a way past the Cats, and into a stolen win.

That was how badly Davidson closed.

It didn't ever look like it was going to be this way. Jake Cohen came out of the gate on fire, scoring 25 points in the first half of the game against a Montana team that couldn't figure out how to stop the versatile big man for Davidson.

They followed him inside and he scored. He stepped back and took threes. He was just dominant as the Cats took a nine-point lead into halftime.

And that is when the fire went out. Cohen was held scoreless for most of the second half, scoring just a free throw in the closing moments. Meanwhile, Montana chipped back, led by the underrated Will Cherry.

That is, led by Cherry until Cherry wasn't the leader anymore. He hurt his foot again. This foot. He spent a good deal of the end of the game on the bench, with an ice bag covering his damaged limb.

Yet Davidson couldn't close out the pesky Griz. They continued to claw back. It helped that Cohen was forced to the bench with foul trouble, something that has plagued him in most games this year. Lucky for Davidson, it wasn't the problem for De'mon Brooks this time too.

With Cohen gone, Cherry was hot, and so was Kareem Jamar, who came alive especially at the end of the game and in overtime. He finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds in relief of the injured Cherry. He also threw in eight assists for good measure. That is Nate Wolters-like and he did it coming off the bench.

And in the closing seconds of regulation, he was the one leading the charge back as Davidson couldn't get out of its own way and close out what was a six-point lead with 90 seconds remaining. The Cats turned the ball over, and then almost offensive fouled the game away as their player got trapped along the side. He threw a shoulder into the Montana defender before he was saved by a timeout call from his bench.

Had that been called, something that the Big Sky officiating crew might have pulled the trigger on, we would have a pretty big goat in this one.

Instead, it was an extra five minutes. Jake Cohen did his best to draw attention on offense and scored two free throws bringing his total to 28, while Chris Czerapowicz scored six of his 11 points in the extra frame, ending the Montana comeback.

Bob McKillop must have some good medicine for these Heart Attack Cats. He is going to need it, especially going forward as Davidson hasn't done enough to warrant an at-large bid, even with this win. They still need to take the Southern Conference.

As for Montana, they hung with one of the more experienced, and better mid-major teams out there. The Griz came back without Will Cherry, and without injured leading scorer Mathias Ward. That should give them some sort of confidence for this final push in the Big Sky, especially if they need to get past a Weber State team that truly trounced them.

But one thing you know: no one wants to be playing these teams in the NCAA Tournament. Especially not if Davidson can learn to close out tough games.