It was a tale of two halves, but Wake Forest (8-8, 1-3) got it together when it counted to get another upset win over a nationally ranked N.C. State (14-3, 2-2) team in a revenue sport, knocking off the Wolfpack 71-67 on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem.
The Deacs overcame a slow start to lead by 10+ points for most of the first half before stretching it to 42-27 at the break.
That lead ballooned to 51-29 before N.C. State mounted a furious comeback to tie the game at 58. From there it wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the Deacs did just enough down the stretch to get its first ACC win of the season.
It was a balanced scoring effort in the first half for the Deacs, with 7 players scoring at least four points headed into the break, but when it mattered it was Jaylen Hoard, Brandon Childress, and grad transfer Torry Johnson who got it done.
Early in the second half Hoard showed why many felt coming into the season that he would be a one-and-done at Wake. He showed he could handle the ball, crash the boards, and score at will against the interior of N.C. State. His handling of the press was vital to getting out to a big lead in the first half, and I actually think that his calm and laid-back demeanor played a fairly large role in that because he did not become overwhelmed with the pressure at all.
He finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists. 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
Childress finished with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Johnson finished with 11 points on just three shots from the field. He hit a jumper off of a screen to give the Deacs a 69-66 lead out of a timeout with just over a minute to go, and then got fouled with Wake up 69-67 with 13 seconds left before calmly knocking them both down to get to the 71-67 final.
N.C. State was led by Torin Dorn and C.J Bryce with 18 and 17 points respectively.
The match-up 2-3 zone in the first half proved to give State all sorts of trouble as they could not get the ball inside at all and resorted to missed three after missed three. The Pack finished 6-29 from behind the arc (21%), while Wake shot just 2-11 (18%) on its own accord.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as after Wake got out to a rare hot start in the second half to push the lead to a game high 22 points they collapsed back to the same old, same old with matador defense, standing around on offense, and poor transition defense.
All in all I just want to take the time to give this team full credit for the victory tonight. I have been very hard on the team and the coaching staff this season (I would still argue rightfully so), but this win tonight should be cherished, as any win over a ranked in-state rival should be.
Don’t worry about the long-term implications of a win like this and instead just enjoy the fleeting optimism and good feelings a win like this brings to you. I can certainly attest that, win or lose, it was damn good to feel SOMETHING about Wake basketball and I want more of these moments to occur.
I am very proud of the team tonight and kudos to fighting back after State tied it up in the second.
#RollTheQuad and #GoDeacs