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Wake Forest Pulls Off One of the Best Comebacks in ACC Tournament History to Beat FSU 65-54

The Deacs advance to the quarterfinals

Wake Forest v Florida State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Wake Forest Women’s Basketball team took down the 5th seeded Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Tournament in one of the craziest comebacks I have ever seen in a college basketball game. After having to play in the opening round yesterday, it looked like fatigue was going to be a major factor in this game early for Wake Forest. In the first 4 minutes of the game, the Noles had a 12-2 lead and it looked like the game was teetering on being over before it even really began. The Deacs were able to cut into the lead a little before the end of the quarter to trail 21-14.

Then the 2nd quarter happened. It was one of the worst quarters Wake has played all season. The Deacs scored a whopping 2 points on 1-12 shooting and turned the ball over 6 times. At the end of the half, the Deacs trailed 16-34. 16 points in a half of basketball is not very good, to say the least. Wake was shooting 7-29 from the floor (24%), 2-13 from 3 (15%), and trailed for 19:49 of the first 20 minutes. Jewel Spear—Wake’s leading scorer—had 0 points on 0-8 shooting from the floor.

Whatever adjustments first year head coach Megan Gebbia made at the half, they paid off massively for Wake Forest. About a minute into the 3rd quarter, the Deacs trailed by 20, 38-18. Then, suddenly, everything just started working for the Deacs. Over the next 9 minutes, Wake Forest outscored the Noles 27-4 and had taken the lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. It was truly one of the best runs I’ve seen all year. I think abandoning the zone that FSU was picking apart in the first half really helped slow down the Noles, which in turn allowed the Wake Forest offense to not have to play against a set defense every time down the court. Wake also did a much better job getting the ball inside, which allowed them to score 14 points in the paint in the quarter.

In the 3rd quarter alone, Wake scored 29 points—almost doubling their total from the entire 1st half—and shot 11-16 from the floor. At the end of the quarter, Wake had flipped a 18-38 deficit into a 45-42 lead. Spear, who was scoreless in the first half, scored 11 of her 19 second half points in the quarter to lead the way for the Deacs.

That big run continued into the 4th quarter, as the Deacs would eventually lead by as many as 14 points in this one. When the Seminoles finally stopped the Wake run, the damage was done—the 26-0 Wake Forest run gave the Deacs an 11-point lead and Wake never looked back. The Wake Forest offense definitely deserves a lot of credit for the comeback, as the Deacs bounced back from their 16-point half to score 65 points in this game—that’s a 49 point second half. As good as the offense was, I think it was the defense that really allowed the Deacs to win this one. In the second half, Wake held the Seminoles to 20 points on 5-30 shooting (16%) and gave up just 2 points in the paint.

As I said, this was one of the craziest comebacks I have seen in a college basketball game. Wake looked completely deflated in the first half—they couldn’t buy a bucket and just looked tired from having to play the day before. Then they come out of the half and completely dominated Florida State for the next 20 minutes to win the game by double digits. It was such a large turnaround that the win probability completely flipped in about 5 minutes.

This was a fantastic effort from the Deacs and an incredible win to move on to the quarterfinals, where Wake will play Louisville, a team that they have already beaten once this season. We will find out tomorrow if the Deacs can keep the run going at 11 AM on ACC Network.

What a win!

Go Deacs!