Deacons Hold Off Pesky Seahawks, 87-78
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - All five starters reached double figures and Wake Forest scored 12 unanswered points down the stretch to break away from pesky UNCW, 87-78, as both teams tied the bows on their pre-Christmas schedules Wednesday night at Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum.
The Demon Deacons improved to 8-4 in Jeff Bzdelik's second season in Winston. Wake also won for the 13th time in 14 meetings with the Seahawks since the series began on Nov. 26, 1977.
The Seahawks dipped to 3-7, but have played seven of their first 10 games away from Wilmington. Buzz Peterson's club doesn't return to the hardwood until Dec. 30 when Furman visits Trask Coliseum for the first time.
Junior guard C.J. Harris paced the Demon Deacons with 23 points. Sophomore guard Tony Chennault added15 points, senior forward Nikita Mescheriakov scored 13, sophomore forward Travis McKie chipped in 11 and sophomore center Carson Desrosiers had 10 for Wake.
The loss overshadowed an offensive explosion by freshman guard Adam Smith of UNCW. The Jonesboro, Ga., rookie set a UNCW freshman scoring record with 32 points, including 27 after intermission. The total eclipsed a 30-point effort by all-time great Brett Blizzard on Nov. 27, 1999, against Campbell in Fayetteville.
Junior forward Keith Rendleman registered his fifth double double of the season and the 11th of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"I didn't feel like we came out with the energy we needed," said second-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. "You have to give Wake credit. We had a hard time stopping C.J. Harris. He got to the line and made his free throws."
Wake won its fourth straight over UNCW at the 14,465-seat arena by jumping out to a workable margin and rallying past the Seahawks down the stretch. The Demon Deacons avenged an 81-69 loss to the Seahawks last December at the Greensboro Coliseum.
After carving out a 36-27 halftime advantage, the Demon Deacons increased the lead to 42-31 with 16:39 left on a pair of free throws by Chennault. UNCW, behind Smith's long range bombing, then made its move.
A Rendleman layup jumpstarted a 17-2 run that included three long treys by Smith, who went 10-for-18 in the second half, including 6-for-10 from deep. When it was over, Smith's third triple gave the Seahawks a 44-44 lead at 13:18.
"I saw it in his eyes," Peterson said of Smith's spurt. "He got two fouls in the first half and we had to sit him so we could use him in the second half.
Wake then cranked up the defensive pressure and made a steady procession to the free throw line to pull out the win. UNCW still led, 58-54, with nine minutes remaining, but the Deacons went on a 12-0 run to gain enough breathing room down the stretch.
Wake outscored UNCW, 33-14, at the free throw line, converting 33-of-43 attempts and 20-of-25 in the second half. The Seahawks made 14-of-19 at the charity stripe.
In the first half, UNCW started quickly and led, 7-3, when Adam Smith drained a jumper on the left wing just three minutes into the contest.
Wake answered to take control, reeling off 11 straight points, and Desrosiers connected on a jumper on the right side to give the Deacons a 14-7 advantage at 14:16 of the opening period. WFU pushed the margin to 10 points, 22-12, before UNCW chopped the deficit to 22-18 with a 6-0 mini-run.
The Seahawks closed to 29-25 on Rendleman's putback at 423, but the Deacons outscored the Seahawks, 7-2, the rest of the half and took a 36-27 cushion into the break behind 13 points from Harris and 10 from Mescheriakov.
The Seahawks break for the Christmas holiday and gets back to action in late December against the Paladins. The Demon Deacons
GAME NOTES: The game was the first meeting at LJVM since #21 Wake's 122-88 pounding of UNCW on Nov. 19, 2008...UNCW now stands 2-32 against ACC opponents through the years...Coupled with a season-opening loss at Maryland, the Seahawks went 0-2 vs. the ACC this season...Buzz Peterson now stands 1-1 against Wake...UNCW is 1-2 against North Carolina opponents this year...The Seahawks have played the Demon Deacons more than any other ACC foe...Wake's Harris sank 9-of-10 free throws in the first half...Former New Hanover High School star Ty Walker played 11 minutes and did not score for Wake...WFU won the battle of the boards, 37-35...Coach Peterson started four freshmen (Jackson, Simmons, Smith and Williams) and Rendleman.