Now that was a fun basketball game. The Wake Forest Men’s Basketball team picked up their third ACC win of the season by taking down the Syracuse Orange 77-74 in a fast paced, back and forth game that needed an extra 5 minutes to decide. The largest lead for either team throughout the entire game was the 8-point lead Syracuse held at the 15-minute mark in the 2nd half—a lead that Wake had completely erased in 3 minutes. We even got both teams having the ball down one score with a chance to tie at the end of regulation and overtime. Thankfully, the Deacs were the only team that converted on that chance.
Wake Forest really didn’t seem to have any trouble against the Syracuse 2-3 zone, moving the ball with purpose and finding the open man for numerous wide open 3-pointers and baskets in the paint. This was a very refreshing sight, as the Deacs have struggled in recent history to come up with a successful gameplan against the zone (thankfully Forbes didn’t attempt the “purposely get trapped in the corner” strategy). Senior Isaiah Mucius led the way in the first half, hitting 4 3-pointers and scoring 16 points to help give the Deacs a 2 point lead at the break. When he cooled off in the second half, Alondes Williams took over, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the second half or overtime. Williams was once again huge for Wake Forest, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. It was his ability to pass the ball that set up Dallas Walton to tie the game at the end of regulation.
Walton not only scored the game tying basket to send the game to overtime, but he also had several blocks down the stretch that helped Wake Forest secure the victory, including one with 20 seconds left in regulation that kept the game within 2 points. He finished with 9 points, 4 blocks, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The player I was most impressed with in this game was junior Jake LaRavia. While he only finished with 12 points, LaRavia played the entire 45 minutes and did a fantastic job playing defense on Buddy Boeheim throughout the game. His ability to stay in front of Boeheim and cut off his drives allowed the Deacs to play big with both Walton and Khadim Sy in the lineup. That big lineup was very effective against Syracuse, especially after Syracuse big man Jesse Edwards fouled out of the game. LaRavia finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.
This was a very exciting game, but it really should not have gone to overtime. The Deacs had like 1,000 chances to put this one away in regulation and completely threw them away with missed free throws and unforced turnovers. Wake shot a pathetic 6-14 (43%) from the stripe in 2nd half, and several of those misses were the front end of the one and one, which could be considered as 2 misses. That is the kind of thing a team cannot do if they want to be successful week in and week out in the ACC.
Thankfully, the Deacs made their free throws in overtime and were able to come away with a big win. While they definitely should have won in regulation, getting the game into overtime after being down late, especially while shorthanded, showed that this team has plenty of fight and that they are not going to let a couple of bad possessions get them off their game. Hopefully this gives the team some momentum heading into next week’s game against a top 10 Duke team. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to Wake the Nation once again. Go Deacs!