WINSTON-SALEM--Dearica Hamby had a career-high 28 points and Chelsea Douglas added 22 as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons survived a late charge to defeat Campbell 73-65 Wednesday night. Hamby had double-double by halftime, eventually grabbing 17 rebounds (also a career high) to notch the Deacs' first victory of the season.
"I just think it's my role on the team this year. Not saying I couldn't do that last year, but I knew my role last year. I had Kevi (Lakevia Boykin) who's a great player, Chelsea's a great player but that wasn't my role. Now it is."
Wake Forest (1-1) built a comfortable 18-point lead after halftime, but missed shots and lackadaisical defense allowed the Camels back into the game. Campbell utilized a 4-guard lineup to try and neutralize Hamby, and eventually crept within 2 points of the Deacs. Hamby proved too much in the end, however, scoring 18 second half points to eclipse her previous career high of 25 (set last year against Campbell).
"We were a little stagnant tonight," Douglas said. "I think we kind of played down to the tempo they were playing. In the last four minutes we pulled it together and gutted it out."
Freshman Jill Brunori had a strong home debut, scoring 7 points and snatching 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of play. Coach Jen Hoover constantly rotated her lineups, trying to keep fresh legs in the game while averting foul trouble in a foul-plagued contest. In all, 55 fouls were called on the evening that resulted in 56 foul shots.
"She (Brunori) just plays hard. I mean, really hard," Hoover said. "I mean, 10 rebounds. I think she really struggled with herself at Marquette because she'd only practiced two days. The very first play of the Marquette game they called her on a charge and that takes a little of the aggressiveness out of her."
Wake Forest lost five seniors from last year's squad and Hoover spent Wednesday night shuffling players in and out to fill that void, including five freshmen. In addition to Brunori, the Deacs got significant minutes from Ataijah Taylor (10 pts), Keri Fulp, Milan Quinn and Mykia Jones.
Hamby and Douglas explained that the freshmen have no choice but to step up in a hurry. I mentioned that it looked like they knew already the way they were supposed to play.
"It's because they have to," Hamby said. "There's really no other option at this point."
"I think they realize that they've got to grow up quick and we drill it in to them every day," Douglas said.
So do they do as they're told by the upperclassmen?
"They do," both players said, laughing.
Next up for the Deacs is a trip to Delaware on Friday night to meet the Blue Hens, still a formidable foe despite the loss of Elena Delle Donne to graduation.