In a game that the Deacs absolutely had to have to make a case for the NCAA Tournament, Wake Forest did exactly what they needed to do and upset the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes 81-74 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
A mere hours after No. 9 N.C. State made the semi-finals after shocking No.1 Duke 75-73, the Deacs provided more fireworks in the Greensboro Coliseum as they jumped out a 38-23 lead at the half over the No. 2 seed Miami.
Wake Forest then held off several furious Miami rallies over the final 20 minutes to send the Deacs bench into jubilation with a seven point victory.
Coach Petersen was seemingly shocked when he heard how long it had been since Wake Forest had achieved some of the things the team did tonight.
"Well we beat a great team today. I think credit has got to go to Miami. That is a great basketball team. They have great players...I can't sit here and tell you that we just had this wonderful game plan. We took a really good basketball team out there...and beat a really good basketball team (in Miami)."
The Deacs will face off against the winner of the No. 3 Maryland/No. 6 UVA match-up tomorrow in the second semifinal at 1:30. Maryland leads 40-20 at the half.
The two teams battled each other to a slow start to the game and it was Miami up 6-5 at the first media timeout. The Deacs took their first lead of the game at the 14:06 mark as sophomore guard Chelsea Douglas hit a jumper for a 9-8 lead.
The game then seesawed back and forth over the next few minutes with the Deacs clinging to a 21-19 lead at the under 8 minute timeout.
From there it was like somebody shot Wake Forest out of a cannon, as they closed the half on a 17-4 run to take a 38-23 lead into the half.
The Deacs rode the hot play of junior Lakevia Boykin and Douglas to push ahead in the half. The best play of the half and perhaps of the game came from junior center Sandra Garcia. With about two seconds left and the Deacs up 35-23, Boykin put up a three that was presumably the last play of the half. It was an air-ball, but Garcia, who was entangled under the basket with Miami's Krystal Saunders, grabbed it and laid it in with the foul with .9 tenths of a second left.
That basket gave the Deacs a 15 point lead and all of the momentum headed into the halftime break.
The Hurricanes are not ranked No. 7 in the country without reason though. The stormed out of the locker rooms to begin the second half and scored the first six points before a Lakevia Boykin jumper ended the flurry.
From there Miami would continue to chip away at the Wake Forest lead behind All-American candidates Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams.
Williams seemingly could not miss from beyond the three-point line and she finished with a game-high 22 points (including 4-8 from behind the arc).
Shenise Johnson showed why she is regarded among the elite in the country and finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Deacs did a great job of matching the Hurricanes blow-for-blow and kept the lead at around ten points until the 9 minute mark. From there, Miami turned up the intensity on defense and forced a few uncharacteristic turnovers from the Deacs.
Their labors would eventually be rewarded as Miami finally took the lead on a jumper and a foul by Stefanie Yderstrom. That made the score 66-64 in favor of the 'Canes with just under five minutes remaining. The lead could have been built on after a missed Wake Forest shot but Shawnice Wilson was called for a technical foul for bumping a Wake Forest player.
Sandra Garcia knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 66, and then Douglas added two more after getting fouled while driving into the lane.
With the Deacs up 68-66 Miami tied it again five seconds later with two foul shots by Shenise Johnson. The game would remain tied at 68, with neither team able to take hold of the game for nearly three minutes.
The stalemate was finally broken by Wake Forest's Sandra Garcia on a rebound putback to go up 70-68.
From there the Deacs would score five more points to push the lead to 75-68. Miami had one last gasp as they scored four points in six seconds after a layup and a terrific steal by Williams.
Wake Forest would convert their free throws (20-24 overall in the game) and then cap it off with a court length pass to Boykin, who laid it in to make the final score 81-74.
- Wake earns its first trip to the semifinals since 1988 and its third overall.
- The win over the seventh-ranked Hurricanes is the second in Wake history over an opponent ranked in the AP poll's Top 10 (No. 7 Maryland on Feb. 2, 1993).
- Before Friday, teams seeking major upsets (a difference of five or more places in seeding) stood at 4-73 in the ACC Tournament. On Friday State and Wake both won to go 2-0 in that category.
- The Deacs are the third No. 7 seed to make the ACC semi-finals. N.C. State (No. 9) is the highest seed to ever make the ACC Tournament semis.
- Wake was led by Secily Ray in scoring who had a season-high 21 points and also had 8 rebounds.
- Douglas and Boykin chipped in 18 and 16 respectively.
- Sandra Garcia had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
- Mykala Walker finished with only two points, but seven rebounds, three blocks, and four assists.