ATHENS, GA – With seven seconds remaining and the ball in its hands, Wake Forest trailed by three. But, a Cameron Hildreth behind-the-arc effort fell just short, and Georgia was able to pull out the 80-77 victory on home court.
“It’s a blown opportunity for us on the road,” head coach Steve Forbes said after the game. “One we’re not going to have a chance to get back in the non-conference. We’re gonna have to go back and get better.”
It was a battle for Wake Forest to even get back within striking distance near the final buzzer. The Bulldogs led by eight with just over two minutes on the clock, but five-straight Deacons points gave the team a chance.
The run by Wake Forest was one of many for either side. Trailing by a dozen in the second half, the Deacs scored 12 of the next 13 points. Wake Forest also went on a 12-1 run early in the first. But Georgia got the best of the streaks. Early in the action, the Bulldogs outscored the Deacs 20-4 over a seven-minute stretch. In the second half, a 17-4 run turned a one-point Wake Forest lead into a 12-point deficit.
The Deacs were stunted by turnovers for several parts of the game, though only five of 13 occurred in the second half.
Foul trouble was also an issue — three of Forbes’ starters ended the game with four. All three — Hildreth, Boopie Miller and Andrew Carr — reached their fourth before the under-eight media timeout, Carr with 15 minutes remaining.
“They put a lot of pressure on driving the ball,” Forbes said. “[It] put us in foul trouble.”
“They sure had a lot of fight, no question…” he later noted. “What are you going to do? Hold them over there till six minutes, four minutes, and then be down 20? That’s where the game was headed…I’m not one of those guys to wait, because you’re gonna wait too long and be out of the game.”
Despite being under the pressure of a fifth foul, Miller and Carr led Wake Forest in scoring with 22 and 18 respectively. Miller also recorded six rebounds and seven assists, with Hildreth adding 12 points.
Carr notched eight rebounds, including two on the offensive end. Matthew Marsh nabbed three additional second-chance opportunities.
Of Wake Forest’s 77 points, 26 were in the paint. In comparison, Georgia recorded 46 from under the basket.
“I thought [Georgia] did a really good job protecting the paint,” Forbes said. “We knew that coming in here, that we wouldn’t get to the rim a lot. But when we did, we had to play off two feet and shot fake, which we didn’t do. They played physical without fouling.”
Wake Forest also finished the game 39% from the field and 41% from two-point range.
“I thought we took way too many bad shots from two,” Forbes said. “We shot 41% from two, which is not good...Too many dribble pull up twos that we don’t teach.”
“That was one of the things I told them before the game,” Forbes added. “You cannot get sped up. You got to play at your pace, and I felt like they had [the offense] sped up.”
Following the loss, Wake Forest’s turnaround time is quick. The team will be back on the road in less than a week’s time for the early-season Charleston Classic.
According to Miller, fixing some errors is critical going forward.
“Those little mistakes end up in big mistakes at the end,” he said. “And that’s how we just lost by three.”
“We got lots of season ahead of us…” Forbes echoed. “I’m here to win. We’re here to win. And, we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot with some of those things that we did tonight.”