The Wake Forest Demon Deacons dominated the Boston College Eagles on Saturday night to win their second straight game by double digits. With the win, the Deacs move to 13-5 overall and 5-2 in the conference. Wake has now won 5 of their last 6 games, with 3 of those wins coming by double digits.
The first half of this one started with the slow, defensive struggle that I think many of us were expecting. At the 10-minute mark in the first half, the two teams had combined for 10 turnovers and Wake led just 15-11. Something changed once the clock hit triple digits, however, and Wake decided it was time to score some points.
Damari Monsanto and Bobi Klintman combined to hit 3 straight 3-pointers for Wake, and the Deacs were off and running. Over the next 4 minutes, Wake went on a 16-3 run to take a 37-20 lead at the under 4-minute timeout. Moving Carr to the 5 with Klintman at 4 allowed Wake to play 5-out with shooters all over the court, and that seemed to really open up the driving lanes for the Deacs. It also left Boston College big man Quentin Post trying to chase faster players around the court, which was obviously a big advantage for the Deacs.
The result of the switch to small ball was Tyree Appleby simply getting into the paint at will against the BC defense and dishing the ball when the help came. Despite finishing the half with just 5 points on 2-7 shooting, Appleby led the charge for Wake Forest with 6 first half assists to help the Deacs score 24 points in the paint over the first 20 minutes. Many of those assists were going to Andrew Carr, who finished the half with 15 points and made all 7 of his field goal attempts.
Boston College gained some momentum right at the end of the half, as the Eagles closed out the period on a 9-2 run and cut the Wake lead down to 10 points. Wake has had trouble this season towards the end of halves, and this was just another game where some sloppy play in the last 2 minutes allowed the opponent to get right back in the game after Wake had built a big lead. I don’t know how much it affects the players, but as a fan, a game feels so much more winnable down 10 at the half as opposed to 19.
Thankfully, the Boston College momentum didn’t carry over into the second half. The Deacs opened the half shooting 8-12 from the field and used a 12-0 run to take a 23-point lead with 13 minutes remaining in the game. Cam Hildreth was on a heater to start the half, scoring 12 quick points on 4-5 shooting, including a step-back 3-pointer and a 4-point play.
That run was basically all she wrote for this one. The Eagles cut the lead to 18 a couple of times, but, for the most part, Wake led by 20+ points throughout the 2nd half. The Deacs continued to play small and attack the paint—Wake spent the rest of half shooting layups and kicking out to open shooters for 3-pointers. For the game, Wake shot 52% from the floor, made 10 of their 26 3-point attempts, scored 42 points in the paint, and assisted on 16 of their 34 made baskets. This Wake Forest offense is really dangerous when they play together and everyone gets involved in the scoring.
The Deacs were once again led by the duo of Andrew Carr and Cam Hildreth. Carr finished with his second double-double of the season, scoring 21 points on 10-14 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. Hildreth followed up his impressive game against FSU with 20 points on 7-12 shooting and 6 assists. Over the past 2 games, Hildreth and Carr are both averaging 23 points per game and are shooting 62% and 75% from the floor respectively. If that continues, I have a good feeling about Wake’s chances at making the NCAA Tournament. Tyree Appleby was the only other Deacs to finish in double figures, adding his ever consistent 17 points and 7 assists.
This was another dominant performance from Wake Forest in a game where they never trailed. The Deacs are starting to play their best basketball of the season at the perfect time, as Wake has a really tough conference schedule coming up on the horizon. To finish out the month of January, Wake has a chance to hand Clemson their first conference loss of the season at the Joel, a home game against #13 Virginia, a road game against a Pitt team that is currently second in the ACC, a home game against an NC State team that has been surprisingly good this season, and the always difficult road game against Duke. By the time February rolls around, we will know exactly what this team is made of. I can’t wait to find out.