Brajkovic Leads Men’s Basketball to Win Over UNCW
DAVIDSON — Davidson got forward Luka Brajkovic involved early and often Saturday night, and the Austrian sophomore responded with a career-high 21 points to spark the Wildcats to an 87-49 win over UNCW in Davidson’s home opener.
Wildcats’ coach Bob McKillop said he was “thrilled with the win,” which came four days after his team’s loss at rival Charlotte.
“We had a very difficult week,” said McKillop, whose team improved to 1-2. “We were knocked to the mat. But we got up, and we fought, and I think we showed what we’re capable of tonight.”
Brajkovic scored the Wildcats’ first four points, attempted the team’s first four shots and consistently gave the Seahawks (2-2) problems. His 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 23-9, and he finished the first half with 17 points, two shy of his previous high from last year at Wake Forest.
“We think Luka is a big part of what we can do,” said McKillop. “He showed that tonight.”
And McKillop liked the inside-outside attack the Wildcats showed throughout.
“I was pleased that we stayed with the system and made them defend us,” he said.
The Wildcats’ first-half lead peaked at 30-11 on a 3-pointer by Hyunjung Lee, and Davidson held a 41-30 edge at the break. After a jumper by UNCW’s Marten Linssen to start the second 20 minutes, the Wildcats scored the next 15 points and crafted a 21-2 run to lead 62-34 at the 12:58 mark, following another trey by Lee, who gave the Wildcats a spark off the bench and finished with 11 points.
“He gave us great energy,” said McKillop. “He’s got a knack for getting loose balls, and he’s long. He’s still learning our system and still learning the details. Once he does that, he’s got the skills and tenacity to really help us.”
In all, five Wildcats scored in double figures, including Kellan Grady (14), Carter Collins (13) and Jon Axel Gudmundsson (12). And guards Grady, Gudmundsson and Collins, who returned after missing the Charlotte game, combined for 23 rebounds, as the Wildcats held a 39-24 advantage on the boards.
“When guards rebound, it makes you defend so much better,” said McKillop.
Jaylen Sims scored 14 and was the only Seahawk in double figures.
Editor/photographer’s note: my favorite photos were taken as Cal Freundlich made a 3-pt shot. The first photo shows his shot, and the subsequent photo show the reaction of the Wildcats’ bench as the ball swooshed through the net.