CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Wake Forest men’s basketball team battled for a gritty 63-55 win at Virginia on Saturday afternoon for their fourth Atlantic Coast Conference win of the season.
In total, the Wake Forest (14-4, 4-3 ACC) defense held Virginia (10-7, 4-3 ACC) to 36.2 percent shooting (21-of-58), their second-worst shooting performance on the season and worst on their home floor. The Demon Deacons’ defense came up big down the stretch, forcing the Cavaliers to just 4-of-16 shooting over the final 10 minutes of play to secure the victory.
On offense, four players finished in double figures, led by 15 from Jake LaRavia on 6-of-11 shooting. Alondes Williams followed close behind with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Williams also chipped in eight rebounds (five offensive) and four assists, all four of which also came in the final period.
Isaiah Mucius (4-of-9 shooting) and Daivien Williamson (4-of-8 shooting) each finished with 12 points and combined to knock down five of the Deacs’ six three-pointers. Mucius aided Williams’ effort on the glass, also finishing with eight rebounds.
Wake Forest won the rebounding battle for the second-consecutive game, as the team finished with a 35-31 edge on the glass including 13 offensive rebounds – the team’s second most this season and the most against an ACC opponent.
How It Happened
Dallas Walton’s hookshot opened up scoring for the Deacs a minute into the contest.
Jake LaRavia capped off an 8-0 run at the free throw line that gave the Deacs their first lead of the game (11-6) with 12:47 remaining in the first half.
Daivien Williamson and Isaiah Mucius each contributed three points during the run, and the defense held Virginia scoreless (0-of-7) for nearly six minutes.
LaRavia ended a 10-0 Cavalier run with a layup, narrowing Virginia’s lead to three (16-13) with 7:47 remaining until the break.
Williamson knocked down his first triple of the afternoon off an offensive rebound from Walton, cutting the deficit to six (22-16) with just under six minutes to go in the first half.
LaRavia followed Williamson’s second triple of the game with a hookshot, tying the game at 23 with 2:23 remaining until intermission.
Mucius’ layup following an offensive rebound sent Wake Forest into halftime trailing to Virginia by two points, 29-27.
Williamson led the team’s scoring effort in the first half, with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting.
The Deacs held the Cavaliers to just 33.3 percent shooting (10-of-30) in the first half.
LaRavia scored first for the Deacs in the second half with a layup, cutting Virginia’s lead to two (31-29).
Khadim Sy connected on his first triple off a skip pass from Alondes Williams, narrowing Wake Forest’s deficit to two (34-32) with 16 minutes left in the contest.
Williams’ perfect trip to the stripe tied the game at 36 with 13:36 to play.
LaRavia rolled in a layup with 11:32 remaining to bring the Deacs within three (43-40).
Williamson opened up a critical 13-0 Wake Forest run with his third triple that propelled the Deacs back into the lead (53-47) with 4:18 remaining in the game.
In addition to Williamson’s triple, LaRavia netted a free throw and hit a layup, Mucius drained his second triple and Williams contributed a pair of layups during the run.
Wake Forest held Virginia scoreless (0-of-6) for nearly seven minutes of game action during the run.
Williams responded to consecutive Virginia buckets with a pair of layups, pushing the Deacs’ lead to six (57-51) with 2:31 left to play in regulation.
Mucius hit a turnaround jumper as the shot clock was winding down with 1:37 remaining in the contest to again push Wake Forest’s lead back to six (59-53).
Williams stepped to the stripe with 46 seconds left to play and knocked down a pair of critical shots, giving the Deacs a 61-55 advantage.
Mucius iced the game at the stripe, knocking down both attempts to secure a 63-55 victory for Wake Forest.
Facing a seven-point deficit, the Deacs responded with a 13-0 run that gave the team its first lead since the 9:01 mark of the first half and extended it to six (53-47) with just over four minutes to play in the contest.
Williamson opened up the run with his third triple of the game and was followed by buckets from Williams, Mucius, and LaRavia. Wake Forest’s gritty defense also shined during the run, as the team held Virginia scoreless for almost seven minutes of action.
The run prevented the Cavaliers from taking a double-digit lead and instead forced them to play from behind for the remainder of the contest.
Stat of the Game
After holding Virginia to just 36.2 percent shooting, Wake Forest has now held 11 of their 18 opponents this season to below 40-percent shooting. Through seven games, the Deacs have held ACC opponents to just 40.8 percent shooting.
“This has to be the grittiest, grimeyest, toughest win that we’ve had in my tenure. It was a back and forth, physical game and our guys handled that very well. We were down seven with 10 minutes to go, went back to our starting lineup and started getting the ball to Jake and Alondes to break the pack-line defense. I told our players we had to shut down their offensive rebounding and for the most part, we did. We rebounded the ball really well.
We had some gritty plays late in the game – Khadim Sy had an unbelievable offensive rebound, Isaiah made a big-time shot and Alondes willed the ball in after grabbing three offensive rebounds in one possession. Alondes has seen the nickel defense, the prevent defense, the 4-6 defense – he’s seen it all and he did a great job tonight.
All in all, it was a tremendous win for our team and we played really good defense for the entire game. We held them to 36 percent on their home court. I’m really proud of my team. ” – head coach Steve Forbes
Wake Forest will head to Atlanta, Ga. for a matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Wednesday, January 19.
Tipoff in McCamish Pavilion is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game will air live on ESPNU.
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