GREENSBORO, N.C.-- The Wake Forest Demon Deacons shot 61 percent from the floor en route to a decisive 81-69 victory over Notre Dame on the opening day of the ACC Tournament. Graduate student Coron Williams had the best game of his Wake Forest career, scoring 25 points (including four three-pointers) to lead the Deacons. Sophomore Devin Thomas added a double-double for Wake, dominating the paint for 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
"I mean, we finally rebounded the basketball and 'no rebounds, no rings' was the expression we had with the Miami Heat," Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We all know how important rebounding is. With the exception of turnovers we played very well."
The win insured that Wake Forest's Travis McKie would not be the first Demon Deacon never to have won a game in the ACC Tournament. McKie, the only senior, had suffered through 3 consecutive first-round exits while Wake Forest itself had not won a game since the Skip Prosser era. While citing the importance of the win for the program, McKie admitted the victory was special.
"It means a lot," he said. "You know, it's not only my first tournament win, it's Wake's first win in about seven or eight years. We talked about that coming into the game. We knew what we had to do. We just wanted to break the streak not only for this team but for Wake Forest."
The Irish were led by guard Pat Connaughton's 19 points and while Zach Auguste, Garrick Sherman and Eric Atkins all reached double figures. Notre Dame was out-rebounded 33-23 and could not take advantage of 15 Wake Forest turnovers. The Irish ended their season shooting 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the three-point arc. The Deacs, in contrast, shot a remarkable 70 percent from the three-point line.
Next up for the Deacs is a rematch with fifth-seeded Pittsburgh, who blew out the Deacs early in the ACC season in Pittsburgh. Wake Forest needs to play with the same intensity on defense and the boards, but must have more out of Codi Miller-McIntrye (five points Wednesday) if they hope to advance to Friday's quarterfinals.