CHESTNUT HILL, MA – Andrew Carr hadn’t made a shot all night. He was 0-3, wrestled with foul trouble and generally looked uncomfortable. But, for one shot, Carr did just fine. With 12 seconds remaining on the clock, and Wake Forest leading by just one, the senior forward sealed the victory with a three-pointer that was pure the moment it left his hands. The Deacs lead extended to four, seconds later to six, and the team left Conte Forum with a hard-fought 84-78 win over Boston College.
“This just shows how much of a mature team we can be,” Cam Hildreth said. “Especially getting road wins like this, it’s really important…We really work hard, and we’re a good team.”
Carr taking the shot was key, no doubt. But so was the player who put it in his hands.
“What a great pass by Boopie Miller at the end of the game to hit Andrew Carr in the corner for a big shot…” head coach Steve Forbes said. “That shows the confidence that they have in each other, and the confidence Andrew has to take that shot.”
“I think the unselfish play of the game was Boopie,” Forbes later added. “He didn’t care that Andrew hadn’t made a shot all night, probably didn’t even know it. But he banged it to him…ballgame.”
At the under-four media timeout, with 3:49 to go, Wake Forest was seemingly in the driver’s seat. The team had gone on a 9-2 run to push the lead to eight. Right out of the timeout, a Hildreth fast-break layup put the Eagles down by 10.
Then things got shaky. Claudell Harris Jr. scored seven points in roughly a minute and the lead was just two. A Boopie Miller jumper temporarily spelled the BC run, but three-straight points had the Eagles within one. That is, until Carr made his lone shot of the game.
It was not the first time Wake Forest weathered a Boston College storm. 10 minutes into the first half, the Eagles rattled off nine-straight points to take a commanding lead. Later, that lead rose to as high as 10. In the second half, Boston College responded to a Deacs run with one of their own to roll back in front.
But each time the Eagles knocked Wake Forest down, the team never faltered. The Deacs outscored Boston College 12-6 in the final 4:30 of the first half, whittling the deficit down to four. That spurred a 13-2 run out of halftime to snag the lead. Boston College last led the game with 10:33 on the clock. Each attempt to get ahead thereafter was stymied by the Deacs.
“One of our identity pieces is we’re trying to be a gritty, grimy, tough team,” Forbes said. “I thought, in the second half, we were.
“I didn’t think we were very sharp in the first half. And I thought [the Eagles] were, and they took the game to us. But I thought as the game moved along, we kind of found our rhythm, played a lot better. I think we were playing hard the whole game. We just weren’t always playing smart.”
In the second half, Wake Forest found a way to eliminate some pressure points from the first. After seven turnovers stunted the Deacons’ offense in the opening 20 minutes, the team reduced that number to three the rest of the way. Additionally, Wake Forest raised its shooting percentage to 62%, an indication of a commitment to good shots.
“Our coaches always emphasize, it’s really important to get in the paint,” Hildreth said. “It draws defenders in, and then we’re able to kick it out and make plays. Paint touches are really important.
“We were just sharing the ball a lot more. The first half… we said the ball’s getting a little bit sticky. We were holding it too long…[later, we were] driving it in, making the right reads and the right plays and knocking down shots.”
Wake Forest’s guards shined against the Boston College defense — Hildreth, Miller and Hunter Sallis combined for 56 points, 34 of which came in the second half. Early in the game, one wouldn’t expect Hildreth to be a key part of that statistic. He went from five turnovers and seemingly forcing the ball every time he touched it to finishing with 18 points. In the second half, the junior went 6-8 for 14 points.
“It’s all about trust,” Hildreth said. “It was going to come. Let it come to us. No need to force anything. At the beginning of the game, we started off a little bit slow. We came into halftime, we fixed some things and we came out in the second half and did a great job.”
In the second half, Hildreth also switched on defense to guard Jayden Zackery, who went from nine first-half points to none following the break.
Aside from the guard play, and the final shot by Carr, Efton Reid played an equally critical role in Wake Forest’s victory. The Gonzaga transfer battled valiantly against star center Quinten Post, recording 13 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double with the Deacs.
Most importantly, Reid improved as the game progressed. In the second half, he shot a perfect 4-4 from the floor, pulled down 10 of his 14 boards and held Post to just one bucket. During Wake Forest’s 11-2 run — beginning with 6:15 left and ending with 3:24 — seven of the points came from Reid.
“I thought Efton did a really good job of guarding Quinten Post,” Forbes said. “In the second half, we never had to double the post. That kept us out of being behind the play defensively. I thought that was big.”
“I think their size weared on [Post] over a period of time…” Boston College head coach Earl Grant added. “They did a good job of just trying to dig it out of you when the ball went in the post. They had hands and they were active.”
With the victory, Wake Forest’s winning streak climbs to eight. The chance to make it nine in a row comes in four days, with the Miami Hurricanes traveling north to the Joel. Tip off is set for 2:15pm, Jan. 6 on the CW.