The Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Team gave the ACC their second win of the 2021 ACC-B1G Challenge on Tuesday night, beating the Northwestern Wildcats in overtime by a score of 77-73. The Deacs move to 7-1 and gain a little momentum heading into the start of conference play on Saturday, where they will take on a tough Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg.
This was a just great basketball game. In the first half, the Deacs were moving the ball really well, swinging it from one side of the court to the other and kicking it out for open 3s when the defense collapsed on the drive. Wake finished the first half with 10 assists and shot 8-16 from downtown. Several times it looked like the Deacs were one big shot away from blowing the game open, but Northwestern just refused to go away. Wake jumped out to a 6 point lead, but Northwestern quickly erased it. Then the Deacs went on a 13-0 run with a little under 8 minutes remaining in the half to take a 32-20 lead, but the Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run themselves to get right back into the game. A Daivien Williamson 3-pointer to end the half gave the Deacs a 37-32 lead at the break.
Wake got away from the great ball movement in the second half, with many possessions going into the post and the ball just sticking there. As a result, the Deacs finished the second half with just 3 assists and two made 3-pointers, which netted them just 27 points. Despite that, the back and forth affair continued throughout the second half. Northwestern went on a quick 8-0 run to take the lead just two minutes into the half. After a timeout, the Deacs answered back with a 10-0 run to push the lead back to 9. The Wildcats came right back with an 11-2 run to tie things at 51 all and the game remained close until the final horn. As I said, this was a great basketball game. Everything was knotted up 64-64 at the end of regulation.
The overtime period was dominated by junior Jake LaRavia. LaRavia scored 9 of his 21 points in OT, including a terrific and-1 basket to give Wake Forest the lead after they were trailing by 2 and the go ahead basket with about 5 seconds remaining in the game. He then stole the Northwestern inbounds pass and made 2 free throws to seal the win for the Deacs, 77-73.
This was a great win for Wake Forest over a Northwestern team rated in the top 50 by KenPom. The Deacs played fantastic defense all night and held the Wildcats to 38% shooting from the floor and 33% shooting from beyond the arc.
Look at those rotations! If the Deacs keep defending like this all year they should definitely be at the very least a middle of the pack ACC team. One area they will need to improve on before ACC play is their rebounding—Northwestern finished the game with 14 offensive rebounds and a 14-0 second chance points advantage over the Deacs. Some better rebounding from Wake Forest and this game doesn’t even get near overtime. I’m sure the staff will work on that before heading to VT this weekend. Go Deacs!