WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Wake Forest men’s basketball team defeated Pitt, 76-75, on Saturday evening, giving the Demon Deacons their first ACC win of the Steve Forbes era.
The Deacs first-year head coach also crossed a career milestone, as he captured his 300th career victory as a head coach. During his career as a head coach, he has compiled an impressive mark of 300-112 (.728).
Wake Forest knocked down 15 three-pointers in the win on Saturday, its most in a conference game since the Deacons hit 19 against Clemson on Feb. 13, 2002.
The Deacs were led by sophomore forward Ismael Massoud, who recorded a career-high 31 points and eight three-pointers. The East Harlem, N.Y. native is one of seven players in program history to have ever made eight triples in a game. Additionally, he tied the Wake Forest record for three-point makes in a regulation game and his 8-of-10 shooting performance is the best percentage from distance in school history (min. 8 attempts).
Grad transfer Jonah Antonio also recorded his best game of the season, as he totaled a season-high 15 points and went 4-of-7 behind the arc. The Perth, Australia native was a key component of the victory, with 11 points between the under-12 timeout in the second half to the 9:19 mark. During that stretch Wake Forest grabbed a 63-57 lead.
Junior guard Daivien Williamson continued his strong play of late with two steals and eight assists. Seven of those dimes led to Demon Deacon three-point field goals.
How It Happened
Ismael Massoud opened up scoring for the Deacs with back-to-back 3-pointers as Pitt led 8-6 with 15:52 remaining.
Massoud knocked down his third 3-pointer of the half to cut the deficit down to one (12-11).
Massoud scored nine of the Deacs’ first 11 points.
Massoud continued his hot shooting, connecting on his fourth triple to end a 5-0 Pitt run and cut Pitt’s lead to three, 19-16.
Jonah Antonio hit his first 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game (23-21) with 8:28 left in the first half. Daivien Williamson dhised out his fourth assist of the opening half with the made shot.
Massoud hit his fifth 3-pointer of the half with 5:17 remaining to cut the deficit down to two (28-26). His sixth field goal of the first half tied his career high in points with 17.
After tying the game at 33 with a made layup, Williamson scored to end a 10-0 Pitt run and make it a single-digit contest (43-35).
The Deacs headed into intermission down 38-35 thanks to a Jalen Johnson three-pointer at the buzzer.
Over the course of the first half, Wake Forest shot 51.9% from the field and 53.3% from behind the arc and forced eight Pitt turnovers.
Massoud’s sixth 3-pointer of the game set a new career high in points (20) and cut the deficit back down to single digits (52-43) with 17:44 left in the game.
Williamson’s first 3-pointer of the game capped off an 8-0 Wake Forest run that brought the Pitt lead down to four (52-48).
Johnson’s dunk with 13:27 remaining cut Pitt’s lead down to two points (54-52).
Antonio embarked on a 11-2 run on his own out of the under-12 timeout as the Deacs maintained a 63-57 lead with 9:19 remaining.
The graduate hit three treys during the run.
Massoud followed up the run with two trips to the free throw line, going 3-for-4 as the Deacs held a 66-57 lead with 8:17.
Massoud hit his seventh 3-pointer to increase the lead back to nine points (72-63) with 5:27 remaining. The very next possession, he hit his eighth trey to give the Deacs a double-digit lead.
Pitt responded with a 7-0 run over the next three minutes to make it a three-point game (75-72) with 2:05 remaining.
Antonio split a trip to the charity stripe to bring the lead to 76-72 with 1:16 remaining.
A Pitt layup cut the lead to one (76-75) with eight seconds left, but a strong defensive stand in the final moments secured the Deacs their first ACC win of the season, 76-75.
After trailing by a dozen (52-40) early in the second half, Wake Forest responded with a 12-3 run to cut the deficit down to 55-52 at the under-12 timeout.
Out of that timeout, Jonah Antonio knocked down three triples and a mid-range jumper in under three minutes of gametime, which gave the Deacons a 63-57 lead with 9:19 left in the game. That marked Wake Forest’s first lead against an ACC opponent this season with under 10 minutes to go in the second half.
Wake Forest would not surrender the lead the rest of the game.
Stat of the Game
Sophomore forward Ismael Massoud had a career night, posting 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 8-of-10 from behind the arc. His 31 points are tied for the most by any ACC player in a conference game so far this season.
Additionally, his 80 percent three-point performance is the top mark from distance in school history (min. 8 attempts).
.800 (8-10) Ismael Massoud vs. Pitt on Jan. 23, 2021
.777 (7-9) Craig Dawson at (2) Maryland on Feb. 24, 2002
.777 (7-9) Randolph Childress vs. (3) UNC on Jan. 30, 1993
Straight From Forbes
“I’m really proud of my team. They’re just a resilient bunch of guys. This is their seventh game since January 4th and they haven’t had a lot of practice time, but they’ve been so positive and worked so hard. We had a great practice yesterday, they were ready to play and I thought that really carried over to the game. I thought Pitt really came out and popped us good, we couldn’t guard them in the first half. Champagnie is a hell of a player. I thought they were one of the more physical teams we have played all year long. We were really struggling with their physicality. I challenged our team at halftime that if we don’t defend, if we don’t get those guys on the ice ball screen, we’re going to have a hard time winning. I thought our defensive intensity improved, and we were able to take on the physicality a lot more in the second half.
I thought Emmanuel Okpomo really helped us in the first half defensively when Ody got two fouls early, and then Ismael came in with his best Steph Curry imitation tonight and made eight threes. We had to make 15 threes to win the game, but that’s who we are. I thought Jonah Antonio broke the game open a little bit in the second half. When we ran a couple out of bounds plays, got him wide open shots, got loose in transition and I thought he played with a lot of energy too. We didn’t end the game very well. They went to the Alamo, which is zone, which is kind of our kryptonite right now, and we’re so reluctant to drive the ball in the gap. We work on it, but not enough, and that’s on me.
On Daivien’s situation at the end of the game, we had one timeout left. I told them, if you get trapped, take on the trap and then if they’re not going to foul you, you could call a timeout. Because we had one and he didn’t, they stripped him. Credit to them, they’ve got a good basketball team, and I thought we beat a really good ACC team today.”
Wake Forest will travel to NC State on Wednesday night for a 8 p.m. tip in Raleigh. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network.
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