Just after Stephen Curry had completed the most sublime shooting performance of this NCAA tournament, hitting a three-pointer to give Davidson a lead it would never lose, he pointed over to the first row of the Davidson cheering section.

The Wildcats sophomore guard was acknowledging his mom and his dad -- the two people who have been most instrumental in him becoming a sweet-shooting guard, Southern Conference Player of the Year and, now, NCAA tournament game winner.

Curry's near-unconscious shooting performance carried 10th-seeded Davidson to an 82-76 victory over seventh-seeded Gonzaga in the first round of the tournament at the RBC Center in Raleigh and gave the Wildcats their first NCAA tournament victory since -- are you ready for this? -- 1969. The red-hot Curry scored 40 points, hitting 14 of 22 shots, including 8 of 10 three-pointers. In the second half, when Davidson -- once trailing by 11 -- needed him most, Curry scored 30 points alone.

The performance drew dropped-jaw praise from everyone, even those wearing Bulldogs blue.

"It was like an opening-night star performance on Broadway, and he was the star," Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. "He did it against man-to-man, three different guys. He did it against the diamond-and-one, he did it against the three-two zone, he did it against constant switching, and he did it against players who were sitting on his topside, sitting on his bottom side.

"He did it against a variety of defenses and was magnificent in his performance."

Said Davidson guard Jason Richards: "I've seen him this hot, but on a national stage I think he showed everyone what he's capable of doing. Playing against Gonzaga and doing what he did was just incredible. You can't help but smile."

After the game Gonzaga coach Mark Few said without a hint of sarcasm, "We actually guarded him probably as well as we could."

Serious college basketball bracketheads already know Curry's story. But now every office poolster across America knows it: He's a son of former sweet-shooting NBA guard Dell Curry, who badly wanted to play big-time college basketball, particularly at his dad's alma mater, Virginia Tech. But the only scholarship offers young Stephen received were from Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop and Davidson. He elected to sign with Davidson, a private liberal arts school near Charlotte, and has been playing with a chip on his shoulder ever since.

He averaged 25.1 points this season and was named the Southern Conference's Player of the Year, but Friday's game was regarded across-the-board as Curry's shining moment.

"I hit some big shots in my career, but I don't know if I hit any this big, especially in the NCAA tournament," said Dell Curry, who was winless in two tournament games with the Hokies. "He's better than I was."

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