The Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Team has advanced to the second round of the NIT after taking down the Towson Tigers by a score of 74-64. While there were moments where things got sloppy in the second half, the Deacs basically dominated for most of the game. Wake never trailed in this one and led by as many as 23 points in the first half.
This was a strange game where the two teams kind of mirrored each other between the halves. Wake deployed a full court zone press through much of the first half to speed up the Tigers, who played with one of the slowest tempos in the nation this season. That seemed to get Towson out of their comfort zone, causing them to shoot just over 29% from the field and turn the ball over 8 times in the first half. Wake, on the other hand, started off hot, shooting 60% from the floor and 43% from beyond the arc in the first half to grab a 43-22 lead at the break.
And then things seem to just completely switch Freaky Friday style. Towson started deploying a zone trap in the second half, and it really gave the Deacs a lot of trouble. Wake shot just 9-24 from the field in the second half and turned the ball over 11 times. If not for Damari Monsanto heating up from downtown, Towson would likely have made this a much closer game down the stretch. Monsanto scored 14 of Wake’s 31 second half points on 5-9 shooting (yes, he accounted for 5 of the 9 made FGs) and 4-7 from beyond the arc. Towson had cut the 23 point lead down to 11 when Monsanto entered the game and went on another personal 8-0 run with 2 3-poiners and a putback dunk to push the lead back to 19. Every time Towson looked like they were going to cut the lead to single digits, Monsanto would hit another 3-pointer. Honestly, he is really the only Deac that I thought played particularly well in the second half.
This was not the prettiest game, as the Deacs still struggled with turnovers and seemingly slept their way through the second half, but all that matters is getting the win. Survive and advance is the name of the game now, and Wake did just that. The Deacs move on to the second round and will take on a pretty good VCU team back at the Joel Saturday at 4:00 pm. Let’s help them advance again with a home court advantage. Go Deacs!