Wake Forest is off and running in the Jamaica Classic, taking down the La Salle Explorers 75-63.
The Deacs once again started off the game slowly on offense, which is becoming a concerning trend early in the season. Yet again, Wake looked stagnant and was just not getting any good looks at the basket. Through the first nearly 9 minutes of game time, the Deacs were 2-10 from the field for 5 points and trailed 5-12. Thankfully, Damari Monsanto came into the game and hit a couple of three pointers to spark the Wake Forest offense.
Over the next 10 minutes, Wake Forest went 12-12 from the field and took a 32-27 lead. Cameron Hildreth and Andrew Carr led the way over that span, attacking the paint for 9 and 8 points respectively. Despite not missing a shot for almost 10 minutes, the Deacs weren’t able to make any separation in the first half because of Louisville transfer Josh Nickelberry, who scored 18 of the Explorers’ 33 first half points and shot 6-8 from beyond the arc. The Deacs led 35-33 at the break.
Wake started the second half with a new lineup with Hildreth and Bobi Klintman replacing Lucas Taylor and Davion Bradford. It seems like Forbes is still trying to figure out what his most effective lineups are, especially for the start of halves. Unfortunately, that lineup did not really help Wake’s slow start problems, as Wake scored just 4 points in the opening 4 minutes of the half.
The Deacs would finally get things going again when Monsanto checked back into the game—the redshirt sophomore scored 5 quicks points off the bench to give Wake Forest a 53-45 lead. Based on this game, Monsanto probably needs to be inserted into the starting lineup and play more minutes because the Deacs desperately need his offense. Wake is not going to be able to afford starting off down 10 points every game when they get into ACC play. Monsanto finished the game with 14 points and shot 4-7 from beyond the arc.
After Monsanto provided the spark, Tyree Appleby once again took over the game. The Florida transfer scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to help Wake push the lead out. His 3-point basket with 5 minutes remaining in the half gave Wake an 18-point lead and the Deacs pretty much coasted from there to win 75-63.
The defense in the second half was also much better from the Deacs. After Nickelberry scored 18 points in the first half, he finished with just 23 for the game and didn’t make a single field goal in the second half. The Explorers finished the game shooting just 40% from the floor and scored only 30 second half points.
The Deacs were led by Appleby’s 23 points on 8-14 shooting. Joining him in double figures were Andrew Carr with 10, Damari Monsanto with 14, and Zach Keller with 11. Keller really had a nice game, shooting 4-7 from the floor and hitting a couple of 3-pointers. He also had this pretty nice poster dunk and-1.
Keller has quickly become Wake’s best option at the 5 and appears to have incredible potential. I believe he is going to become a star over the next 4 seasons.
Despite starting both halves off slowly, the Deacs eventually got things together and took care of business to move to 4-0. Wake will play the winner of Georgetown-Loyola Marymount on Sunday at 2:30 on Sunday.