Davidson’s Wildcats found out a lot about themselves Friday in a 76-73 college basketball victory against Dartmouth at Belk Arena.
The Wildcats, trailing for much of the game against a Big Green team picked to finish last in the Ivy League, got a game-tying 3-pointer from sophomore guard Carter Collins with 54 seconds left and three game-winning free throws from sophomore guard Kellan Grady with four seconds remaining to squeak out the victory.
“This was the biggest test we could have to test our toughness and resiliency,” said Grady, who scored 23 points.
Dartmouth (1-1) led by as many as 12 points in the second half. Davidson (2-0), however, never let the Big Green get too far ahead, thanks mainly to the inside play of freshman forward Luka Brajkovic, who scored 18 points and had eight rebounds.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Dartmouth went up 76-68 on two free throws by Guilien Smith with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left. Those would be the last points the Big Green would score.
The Wildcats trimmed Dartmouth’s lead to 76-73 on a basket by Grady with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left, setting up the dramatic ending.
The Big Green had a chance to tie it, but Collins blocked a 3-point shot by Brendan Barry as the final buzzer sounded.
Dartmouth built its lead with some lights-out shooting. The Big Green made 15-of-33 3-pointers, including 5-of-6 from guard Ian Sistare (15 points).
Three who mattered
Luca Brajkovic: Davidson’s 6-foot-10 freshman forward is showing he will be a legitimate inside presence this season, scoring 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds.
Jon Axel Gudmundsson: Wildcats’ guard had 24 points and eight rebounds. His pass to Collins set up the game-tying 3-pointer.
Andrease Jackson: Big Green’s forward scored 16 points and had eight rebounds, six defensive.
▪ It was the second consecutive impressive shooting game for Dartmouth. The Big Green beat Division III Newbury (Mass.) 114-39 in its season opener, going 22-of-45 from 3-point range.
▪ The Wildcats were just 1-of-7 from behind the arc in the first half. The only two Davidson players who could manage any kind of offense in the first half were Brajkovic (12 points) and Gudmundsson (10). Davidson finished making 4-of-18 3-pointers.
▪ The Wildcats’ next game is against Wichita State next Thursday in the Charleston Classic. Davidson will play either Purdue or Appalachian State (coached by former Wildcats assistant Jim Fox) on Friday.
▪ Davidson freshmen Nelson Boachie-Yiadom (concussion) and Mike Jones (knee) didn’t play.
▪ Dartmouth sports information director Rick Bender returned with the Big Green to his alma mater. Bender, a former all-conference shortstop on the Wildcats’ baseball team, was also Davidson’s SID for eight years.
They said it
“All of a sudden, we were stunned.” -- Davidson coach Bob McKillop after Dartmouth took a first-half lead built on sharp 3-point shooting.
“Luca is going to be a huge asset for us. He’s actually a really good passer, too.” -- Grady, on Brajkovic, who had two assists.
“We forgot him. They started making 3s and we felt like we had to hurry.” -- McKillop, after the Wildcats stopped going to Brajkovic when Dartmouth built its lead.