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Wake Forest Takes Down UNC 82-71 To Keep NCAA Tournament Hopes Alive

Freshman Jewel Spear leads Wake past the Heels

NCAA Womens Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row, the Wake Forest Women’s Basketball team took down the North Carolina Tar Heels in their opening game of the ACC Tournament, winning by a score of 82-71. With the Deacs projected as a “First Four Out” team in Charlie Creme’s latest bracketology projections, a win over a Tar Heel team that is “more securely in the field” could be the difference in whether or not Wake is going dancing. The win also gave Head Coach Jen Hoover her 126th win as the head coach of the Deacs, making her the winningest coach in program history.

The big story in this game was freshman Jewel Spear, who led all scores with a career high 29 points on 10-15 shooting, including 7 made 3-pointers. Spear made her first five 3-point attempts and helped the Deacs jump out to a 14 point lead over the Heels early in the 2nd quarter. North Carolina freshman Alyssa Utsby led the Tar Heels back, scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting in the 3rd quarter to briefly regain the lead for North Carolina. Wake Forest’s Ivana Raca took over in the final quarter, scoring 8 of Wake’s 24 4th quarter points to secure the victory and advance to the next round, where the Deacs will take on the #1 seeded (and #5 team in the nation) Louisville Cardinals.

While Wake was led by the big game from Spear, they—as always—got big games out of their senior duo of Ivana Raca and Gina Conti. Raca finished the game with her 9th double-double of the season, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Conti also finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points on 4-9 shooting and dishing out a career high 12 assists. Junior Christina Morra was the final Deacs to hit double digits in scoring, finishing with 10 points on 5-9 shooting.

With the win, Wake will get a second chance against the top seeded Louisville Cardinals, a team they came seconds away from beating in the regular season. A win over a top 5 team in the nation would absolutely assure that the Deacs make the NCAA Tournament. The game tips off at noon tomorrow on Fox Sports South.