It wasn’t pretty, but Wake Forest escaped from Conway, South Carolina with an 84-80 victory over Coastal Carolina, and moved to 7-4 on the season. The Demon Deacons were led by Bryant Crawford, who finished with 22 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals.
Wake Forest hadn’t played a game in 10 days, and it showed in this contest. The Deacs were sloppy, as they turned it over 17 times (24.6% of possessions) and went just 7 for 22 (31.8%) from beyond the arc. They won this game, however, by dominating the glass, 36-27. They also got to the charity stripe more often, and knocked their free throws down at a higher rate. The Demon Deacons made 21-25 free throws, while the Chanticleers made just 12-19.
I give the Deacons credit for showing resiliency in this game. They quickly fell behind 6-0, and were down by 5 at halftime, but a Bryant Crawford inspired run in the second half put the Deacs up by as many as 8 points. Wake appeared to be in relative control, but Coastal regained the lead with 2:58 to play when Artur Labinowicz drilled a triple put the Chanticleers up by 1. Coastal tacked on two free throws just 20 seconds later to put them up by 3, but Wake Forest was the superior team after that moment.
Brandon Childress, who finished with 12 points, drained a pair of free throws, then Mitchell Wilbekin followed up a Bryant Crawford miss to put Wake up 1. It was a great display of winning basketball by Wilbekin, who did not assume that Crawford was going to make the shot. Crawford took an NBA range triple on the next possession, and didn’t make it, but was fouled and made all of his free throws. Crawford then set up Terrence Thompson for a three ball to give Wake a 79-73 lead with just 54 seconds to go. It was going to be all she wrote until Keyshawn Woods inexplicably fouled a Coastal Carolina three point shooter to give him a potential 4-point play opportunity. Fortunately the free throw was missed, and the Deacons made enough free throws down the stretch to escape from Conway with a victory. Overall, Wake did a very good job of securing defensive rebounds and making free throws in the closing minutes.
Riley should have more on this game tomorrow, as he went to the game and was actually able to watch it. I was relying on the box score and the sweet sounds of Stan and Dinger. Wake is now 7-1 since beginning the season 0-3, and will close out non-conference play on Saturday with a home game against a very good Tennessee team.