WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest found an answer every time Davidson tried to rally. It helped the Demon Deacons earn their most significant victory of the season — and just in time, with their most daunting test looming.
Jaylen Hoard and Brandon Childress each scored 16 points to lead Wake Forest past Davidson 67-63 on Monday night.
Chaundee Brown finished with 13 and Torry Johnson had 10, including two important layups in the final minutes for the Demon Deacons (6-3), who have certainly made progress from the group that a month ago lost at home to Houston Baptist.
“We didn’t make as many bonehead mistakes” this time, Hoard said.
They shot 47 percent, held the Wildcats to 29 percent shooting from 3-point range — including 3-of-11 from long range in the second half — and hit 6 of 10 free throws in the final 1:13 to win their second straight.
“I was happy with our guys being able to weather that storm,” coach Danny Manning said. “We knew they were going to come out and play with a little more aggression and try to impose their will. I thought our guys did a good job of staying the course.”
Getting a third consecutive win will be a challenge — the Demon Deacons visit No. 3 Tennessee on Saturday.
Jon Axel Gudmundsson scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, and Luka Brajkovic finished with season highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds for Davidson (8-3), which has lost two straight after winning five in a row.
The Wildcats pulled to 56-51 on Gudmundsson’s free throw with 3:10 left, but Johnson countered by spinning in a layup through contact and hitting the ensuing free throw to put Wake Forest up by eight. Davidson didn’t get closer than six until Brajkovic’s layup with 3.2 seconds left made it a four-point game.
Davidson was without leading scorer Kellan Grady, who missed a second straight game with an ankle injury, and when they fell behind by 14 early, it was fair to wonder if they had completely gotten over their overtime loss to Temple two days earlier. They clawed back late, but their inaccuracy from long range for most of the second half kept them from a victory that was within reach.
“You could see there was just some residue from what happened on Saturday,” coach Bob McKillop said.
The Demon Deacons — two-point underdogs — hadn’t played since a 24-point rout of Charlotte on Dec. 6, so the big question was whether they could keep that momentum flowing 11 days later. They led this one for all but about 4 minutes and their responses to each Davidson run led to precisely the kind of performance they wanted heading into their visit to Rocky Top.