I don’t think we could have asked for a better end to the regular season than what we got last night. Not only did the Deacs dismantle NC State 101-76, but they also got huge games from the seniors in potentially their final game as Demon Deacons. Wake’s 101 points marks the first time the Deacs have scored triple digits on a conference opponent in regulation since beating Clemson 103-68 back in 2005. We said that Wake needed to take care of business in their final two home games to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive; I think it’s safe to say that by beating Louisville and NC State by a combined 200-153 in those two games, they took care of business.
Despite the blowout win, this game was very close at halftime. Every time it looked like Wake was about to blow the game open, NC State would fight back with a well-timed run to get right back in the game. After Wake took a 19-10 lead early, the Pack answered back with a 12-2 run of their own to retake the lead 21-22. With 3 minutes remaining in the half, Khadim Sy made a dunk to give the Deacs a 37-29 lead; NC State retook the lead 2 minutes later on the back of an 11-2 run. Wake led by just 1 point at halftime, 41-40.
The second half was just a little different. With the Deacs leading 50-48, Damari Monsanto hit one of his two 3-pointers on the night to kick start a 12-3 Wake Forest run to give the Deacs an 11-point lead. This time, there was no Wolfpack answer. A 13-2 run a few minutes later by Wake Forest gave the Deacs a 23-point lead and that was that. That lead never dipped below by 20 points for the remaining 6 minutes.
It was a special game for the seniors, who harnessed all the emotions of senior night and turned it into some of their best games of the season. Winston Salem native Daivien Williamson had perhaps his best game of the season, finishing with a team high 28 points on 11-14 shooting from the field and 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Alondes Williams had another ridiculous stat stuffing night with 17 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds. Williams will become the first player in ACC history to lead the league in both scoring and assists if Buddy Boeheim scores fewer than 30 points on Saturday.
Dallas Walton picked up right where he left off in the Louisville game—the big man scored 20 points on 8-9 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. In the final two games of the season, Walton scored a combined 42 points and missed just 2 shots. If he can continue to do that every game, I feel like the Deacs have a pretty great shot at the ACC title.
Khadim Sy finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds in his return to the court, despite playing just 15 minutes due to foul trouble. It was great to see Sy back in the game and playing unencumbered after he injured his foot against Clemson a week ago.
Senior Isaiah Mucius finished with 12 points on 4-10 shooting in what could be his final game in the Joel. Mucius poured his heart and soul into this program even when things were seemingly at their lowest point. He should definitely be commended for sticking around and helping Wake Forest get back to basketball relevancy.
Speaking of basketball relevancy, after winning just 6 games a season ago, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished the regular season 23-8 overall and 13-7 in the ACC. With UNC beating Syracuse on Monday and Miami beating Boston College last night, the Deacs are locked into the 5th seed for the ACC Tournament and will play the winner of the 12/13 matchup next Wednesday. What an incredible job Steve Forbes and the players have done turning around this program in just a year. As Forbes said after the game: “This team has gone out and regained the respect of our campus, our community, the ACC, and the nation.” Wake Forest basketball is back. Go Deacs!