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Wake Forest’s Second Half Comeback Falls Short, Deacs Lose to Duke 74-76

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We were on the verge of greatness, we were this close

Wake Forest v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Ugh. That’s really all I can say at this point. If you didn’t care about the final score, that was one heck of a basketball game. Wake Forest found themselves down by 19 in the second half and battled all the way back to tie the game with 15 seconds remaining, only to lose on a questionable review of a putback dunk with 0.4 seconds remaining. It was an incredible effort from the Old Gold and Black that just happened to come up a few seconds short. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that most of us here did care about the final score, so despite the fact that the Deacs played one of their best stretches of the season in the final 10 minutes, this one is just going to hurt. With the narrow loss, Wake Forest moves to 20-7 overall and 10-6 in the ACC.

I think this game absolutely proved without a doubt exactly how much this team can fight when they want to. Even with ACC Player of the Year candidate Alondes Williams playing just 7 minutes in the first half due to some bogus foul calls and Duke shooting 40% from the 3-point line, Wake Forest only trailed by 9 points at the half. Jake LaRavia and Dallas Walton did a great job filling the void in scoring created when Williams picked up his third foul in the first half.

Even when the Blue Devils started the second half on a 15-5 run and took a 19-point lead, the Deacs never lost their energy. Wake fought like crazy throughout the second half and used a 15-3 run of their own to cut the lead back to 2 with just under 8 minutes remaining in the game. They again trailed 65-73 with just under 4 minutes to play and had the game tied 74 all with 20 seconds left. Every time it looked like Duke had the game put away, the Deacs came roaring back. That is what makes it so painful that this game had to end the way it did.

Wake didn’t have their best game offensively, but when facing an aggressive defense that has been known to sometimes get away with a little more contact, that is to be expected. The Deacs still finished the game with 20 assists on 27 made baskets AND ONLY 11 TURNOVERS, which is always a good sign. Senior Alondes Williams finished with 18 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds and should have been able to do much more in this game if not for foul trouble. I try not to complain too much about the officiating here, but this is an atrocious call to give the ACC’s leading scorer his third foul in the first half:

Junior Jake LaRavia harnessed the hate being thrown at him from the Crazies and turned it into one of his best games of the season. LaRavia finished with a team high 19 points on 7-12 shooting and 10 rebounds. Dallas Walton finished with 17 points and had one of his best shooting games of the season, hitting on 3-7 shots from beyond the arc.

I think Steve Forbes has already moved the program past the moral victories stage, but there isn’t much to be upset about in this one (besides the fact that Wake lost, of course). The Deacs took on one of the best teams in the nation, with some of the best players in the nation, in one of the hardest places to play in the nation, and despite getting down big several times, fought back and had a chance to win the game with under 30 seconds remaining. I don’t want to say that this was a moral victory, so instead, I’ll say that if Wake Forest can find a way to continue playing how they did down the stretch against the Blue Devils, they should win all of their remaining games and find themselves making a splash in the ACC Tournament. We’re on to Notre Dame. Go Deacs!