The streaks continue as Wake Forest drops another game in Cameron Indoor and loses their 4th straight game in the conference. With the loss, the Deacs are now 14-9 overall and 6-6 in the conference after a hot start.
The Deacs started this game with a new starting lineup, going small with Daivien Williamson instead of the usual Matthew Marsh. I’m not sure if that had to do with an injury or Forbes just trying to switch something up after the losing three games in a row, but the small lineup didn’t really work out very well for Wake Forest in the first half. In the first 20 minutes alone, Wake was outrebounded 22-11 by the Blue Devils and gave up 8 second choice points. The move seems even stranger given that Wake beat Duke already this season with Marsh playing 27 minutes.
Despite the advantage in the post with Wake playing small, it was Jeremy Roach who did most of the damage for Duke in the first half. The Deacs appeared to be playing a sort of drop coverage on the pick and roll and allowed Roach to shoot as many midrange jumpers as he wanted. Unfortunately, Roach was making all of those jumpers and finished the half with 17 points on 7-10 shooting from the floor.
Wake managed to keep things close throughout most of the first half, even though they shot just 37% from the field and shot 8 fewer free throws than the Blue Devils. Daivien Williamson and Damari Monsanto, who are usually Wake’s best shooters, finished the half a combined 1-10 from the field for 5 points. Tyree Appleby’s 12 points and Bobi Klintman’s two 3-pointers were really the only thing keeping the Duke lead at single digits at the end of the first half.
From about the 3-minute mark in the first half to the 17-minute mark in the second half, the Deacs went completely ice cold from the floor, scoring just 2 points on 0-9 shooting. Wake was consistently getting pretty good looks at the basket too; they simply could not throw it in the ocean. The cold spell allowed Duke to go on a 14-4 run over the middle 8, and Wake suddenly found themselves down by 12 points 4 minutes into the second half. Playing small can sometimes be a viable strategy against bigger teams, but if the smaller lineup can’t make anything from the outside, it is typically going to fail hard. Forbes recognized this early in the second half and played Davion Bradford for most of the remainder of the game.
The Deacs were able to pull within 6 points with 10 minutes remaining in the half despite starting the half shooting 4-20 from the field and 1-11 from the 3-point line. Unfortunately, they were unable to sustain any kind of run to cut into the lead because they just couldn’t consistently get shots to drop.
Suddenly, after around 18 minutes of not being able to buy a bucket, the Wake Forest offense came alive. The Deacs made 6 out of 7 shots including 3 shots in a row on an alley-oop from Appleby to Carr, a Monsanto 3-pointer, and an Appleby layup to cap off a 12-2 run. After shooting under 30% for most of the game, the Deacs were down just 4 points at the under 4-minute timeout.
The comeback effort would fall short, however, as Kyle Filipowski quickly put Wake’s hopes to rest by hitting a 3 on the very next possession. It was just too little, too late for the Deacs. Duke would go on to win the game 75-73, handing Wake Forest their 4th straight loss and 9th loss of the season. It is also Wake’s 3rd straight loss by 2 points.
Tyree Appleby was once again phenomenal for the Deacs, but he didn’t get enough help for it to matter. Appleby finished the game with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot 9-19 from the floor (47%), while the rest of the team combined to shoot 15-45 (33%). Andrew Carr (11 points) and Damari Monsanto (14 points) were the only other Wake Forest players in double figures.
This was another frustrating one, simply because if Wake had shot a normal percentage from the floor, they would have easily won this game. The Deacs finished the game shooting an abysmal 35% from the floor and 29% from beyond the arc, to Dukes 50% and 35%. I have a feeling if you just saw those percentages and didn’t see the score, most of us would assume the Deacs got absolutely run out the building. And yet, Wake was once again right there in striking distance at the end of the game. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, a bunch of close losses is just a bunch of losses.
With the losing streak continuing, Wake has one of their best chances to get back in the win column this weekend against 10-12 Notre Dame. The Irish are 10-5 at home this season, so I expect that one will also be a battle. Let’s hope the Deacs shoot a little better in Southbend.