DURHAM, N.C. – Despite a career afternoon from sophomore forward Ismael Massoud, the Wake Forest men’s basketball team dropped Saturday’s contest at No. 21 Duke, 79-68.
The East Harlem, N.Y. native netted a career-best 17 points while also grabbing a career-best eight rebounds, both led the Demon Deacons (3-3, 0-3 ACC).
Junior Daivien Williamson also had an impressive day against the Blue Devils (5-2, 3-0 ACC). The ETSU transfer had his best day from the field as a Demon Deacon, going 6-of-9 while posting a season-high 17 points. He was also perfect at the charity stripe, hitting all four attempts.
The free throw line helped keep the Demon Deacons close through the first 30 minutes of the game. The Deacs went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe while the Blue Devils managed just three attempts total in the first half.
Wake Forest finished the afternoon going 18-of-21 (.857 pct.) from the free throw line. It was the best mark for the Deacs this season.
The Demon Deacons turned in a strong defensive performance in the first half, forcing nine turnovers and never trailing by more than six points. The effort continued for much of the second half, with Wake Forest forcing another five turnovers and never trailing by more than seven points until the final five minutes..
How It Happened
Forward Isaiah Mucius opened up scoring for the Deacs with a jumper at the 18:52 mark of the first half.
After forcing three Blue Devil turnovers, Carter Whitt would find Mucius for the Deacs’ first 3-pointer of the game to give Wake Forest a 9-7 lead with 16:07 left in the first half.
After both teams traded baskets during the opening minutes of the game, Duke took a 13-11 lead at the under-16 timeout with a Blue Devil jumper with 14:23 remaining.
The Deacs were shooting 60 percent from the field and had forced three Blue Devil turnovers at the under-12 timeout.
Daivien Williamson knocked down two free throws after the timeout to bring the Duke lead to 17-15.
Wake Forest took a 20-19 lead with 10:11 remaining in the first-half after graduate guard Jonah Antonio knocked down his first 3-pointer of the game.
Williamson’s three gave Wake Forest a 25-24 lead with 5:52 remaining in the first-half.
Freshman guard Carter Whitt’s jumper with 3:10 left ended an 8-1 Blue Devil run and cut the deficit to 32-28.
The next possession, Ismael Massoud knocked down his first 3-pointer to push the score to 32-31 with 2:15 remaining.
The Deacs entered halftime down 37-33 after a tight first half. The largest lead for either team was Duke’s six-point lead with 3:20 remaining, which lasted for just 10 seconds.
Wake Forest forced nine Duke turnovers in the first half, which they converted into 13 points.
Carter Whitt led the team in first half scoring with eight points. Mucius and Williamson also chipped in seven each.
After forcing a Duke turnover, Massoud knocked down his second 3-pointer to cut the Blue Devil lead to 40-38 with 18:18 remaining in the second half.
The very next possession, Massoud converted a 3-point play at the line to further cut the Duke lead to 42-41.
Mucius’s made jumper capped off a 10-2 run that gave the Deacs a 43-42 lead with 17:10 remaining.
Wake Forest retook the lead (45-44) off a Williamson layup with 15:25 remaining in the second-half.
Jalen Johnson’s first made 3-pointer off a Carter Whitt assist tied it up at 52-52 with 12:23 remaining.
After drawing a foul on a 3-pointer, Massoud went to the line and knocked down all three to tie the game back up at 55-55 with 11:44 remaining.
Those free throws gave him 15 points, a new career high.
Duke responded with a 9-2 run to give the Blue Devils a 64-57 lead with 7:36 remaining, their largest lead of the game.
A layup from Williamson ended the run and cut the lead to 5.
A 3-pointer from the Blue Devils gave them the 74-62 advantage with 3:33 remaining, and the Deacs would eventually lose the game 79-68.
After the Deacs found themselves down 40-35 early in the second half, Ismael Massoud scored the next six Wake Forest points with a made 3-pointer and converted a 3-point play that cut the deficit down to 42-41.
A jumper from Mucius capped off the 10-2 run that gave the Deacs a 43-42 lead with 17:10 remaining.
Stat of the Game
Sophomore forward Ismael Massoud posted a new career-high with 17 points on 5-of-10 from the field while also getting to the free throw line a team-high seven times, knocking down five of those attempts.
The East Harlem, N.Y. native also pulled down a career-high and team-high eight rebounds. No other Wake Forest player had more than three boards on the afternoon.
Straight From Forbes
“I will give a lot of credit to Duke. Their guards played really well. Their guards really hurt us on the offensive glass especially in the second half. They had nine of the offensive rebounds. Matthew Hurt is a handful. We knew that coming into the game. He is a good player. It is hard to guard him because he can play inside and out because he can play at a fast pace. There were really two areas that really cost us the game. It was the offensive rebounds. They had four in the first half and fifteen for the game, and then the 50/50 balls and to me every big-time game comes down to whoever gets the most 50/50 balls.
I can remember a back breaker, I do not remember the time, but they shot it, two of our guys had their hands on it, but they got the ball. They not only scored but they got a three-point play. I think they scored 11 points on 50/50 balls. It is hard to win that way.
We were aggressive on offense. We went to the line 21 times. We put a lot of pressure on their defense. Daivien is a reflection of me. He is a tough kid and he is a competitor. I like that about him. Carter did a great job in the first half keeping the game close. He got downhill constantly and made some tough shots. It really hurt us when Ody got in foul trouble and fouled out. We were able to get the ball to him because they were switching 1-to-5 and we were able to throw it in there to him. We have got to keep him in the game. Ismael has stepped up the last two games. He had 8 rebounds. I’m proud of the way he played. Ultimately at the end of the day, we played 32 minutes. You’ve got to play 40 in this league.”
Wake Forest will be back in action at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum against Louisville on Wednesday, Jan. 13, the first of a two-game homestand.
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