College Sports

Davidson’s slow start gives way to blowout. Even the Kellan Grady news is good.

After a slow start, Davidson rolled to an 88-54 victory over Central Pennsylvania at Belk Arena, prompting a number of celebrations on the Wildcats’ bench.
After a slow start, Davidson rolled to an 88-54 victory over Central Pennsylvania at Belk Arena, prompting a number of celebrations on the Wildcats’ bench. TIM COWIE

Things played out perfectly Saturday afternoon for coach Bob McKillop and the Davidson basketball program.

The Wildcats got a bit of a test early in their 88-54 rout of visiting Central Pennsylvania, but early shooting woes disappeared, 10 players scored, and McKillop’s team got a nice tuneup for a big game next Saturday.

And Kellan Grady, the team’s leading scorer, got some more rest.

Grady, nursing a bad knee, was in street clothes for the third straight game, but the Wildcats didn’t need him. Facing a foe from a lower level of college basketball, Davidson outscored the visiting Knights 32-11 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and coasted.

“We were supposed to win this game by a significant margin, and that can play chaos with you,” McKillop said, referring to the opening 10 minutes, when Davidson led only 15-14. “We were thinking a lot, trying to make the perfect play.”

The Wildcats shot 5-of-13 from the floor in that span, with Luke Brajkovic’s eight early points keeping them close. But at the 10-minute mark, everything changed.

Freshman guard David Czerapowicz hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Carter Collins, playing in place of Grady, hit a pair of baskets. That made it 25-14, and the Wildcats were off and running.

“As the game progressed, we got better and better,” McKillop said.

After the slow start, Davidson made 31 of its last 59 shots from the floor – better than 60 percent.

The lead passed the 30-point mark, at 55-23, on a 3-pointer by freshman Luke Frampton with 16 minutes left in the game. Davidson passed the 40-point mark, at 78-37, on a Collins layup with 5:40 to play.

Plenty went right for the Wildcats, who head into the Christmas break with a game next Saturday afternoon at North Carolina next on the schedule. Davidson officials said Grady is expected to play in that contest.

Records: Central Pennsylvania is 4-8; Davidson is 9-3.

Three who mattered

Luke Brajkovic, Davidson: A 6-10 freshman, Brajkovic was the steady hand, providing the offense early in the game when the Wildcats struggled a bit. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 11 rebounds.

Bates Jones, Davidson: Jones, a 6-8 sophomore from Charlotte Latin, scored 12 points in a reserve role. Those were his first points of the season.

Carter Collins, Davidson: With point guard Kellan Grady still out, Collins filled in, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds to go with three assists and two steals.

Worth mentioning

▪ Davidson guard KiShawn Pritchett tumbled under the Wildcat basket midway in the first half, and he sat out the game’s final 25 minutes. McKillop said Pritchett’s knee “locked up” but that the injury is not thought to be serious.

▪ Central Pennsylvania guard Deon Tabb had a big start, scoring eight early points. Davidson’s defense held him to four points the rest of the way.

▪ McKillop said senior forward Nathan Ekwu, who missed last season with a knee injury, looked good Saturday in 14 minutes of playing time. He scored four points and grabbed six rebounds. “It was nice to see him move so well,” McKillop said.

▪ Davidson has a 59-0 record all-time against non-Division 1 opponents under McKillop.

▪ The Wildcats will spend the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday in Florida, competing in the AdvoCare Invitational at ESPN Wide World of Sports, part of the Disney complex near Orlando. Also in the field will be Fairfield, Harvard, Marquette, Maryland, Temple, Texas A&M and Southern California.

▪ Saturday’s game was the first between the Wildcats and Central Penn, which competes in the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association.

They said it

▪ ”Yes, we won by 30-plus points, but there are many nuggets we can take from this game and use them, going forward.” – McKillop.

What’s next?

Davidson has the week off before playing at noon next Saturday at North Carolina. The Wildcats return home Jan. 5, opening Atlantic 10 play at 6 p.m. against Duquesne. The Knights are off until Jan. 3, when they face Penn State-York.