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Wake Forest Second Half Comeback Falls Short in ACC Home Opener

Despite a season-high 19 points and four assists from Daivien Williamson, Wake Forest fell to Louisville, 77-65.
Credit: WFMY News 2 Sports

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.  – Wake Forest fell to No. 16 Louisville, 77-65, on Wednesday evening in its Atlantic Coast Conference home opener. 

Trailing by 12 points (53-41) with 16:34 remaining in the second half, the Demon Deacons went on an 11-0 run to pull within one point after a pair of graduate transfer Jonah Antonio free throws at the 12:14 mark. During that stretch, the Demon Deacons forced three Louisville turnovers and were led offensively by a graduate transfer Jalen Johnson three-pointer and four points from junior Daivien Williamson.

Despite the momentum shift, the Cardinals (6-2, 4-0 ACC) responded with a 9-2 run and Wake Forest (3-4, 0-4 ACC) was unable to get the game within one possession for the remainder of the contest. 

Williamson continued his impressive play of late as he led the Deacs with a season-high 19 points and four assists. Just four days ago at Duke, the Winston-Salem native put up 17 points and two assists. 

Johnson, Antonio, and sophomore Ody Oguama all finished in double-digits with 11 points each. Antonio and Johnson made five of the Deacs’ seven three-pointers. 

On the glass, Louisville outrebounded Wake Forest 21-12 in the first half. Undaunted, the Demon Deacons responded and led that category 19-15 in the second stanza. Individually, junior Isaiah Mucius led the team with a season-high eight boards. Oguama grabbed a season-best six. 

At the charity stripe, Wake Forest converted a season-best 88.9 percent (16-18) of its attempts on Wednesday. 

Key Moment

Trailing by 12 points (53-41) with 16:34 remaining in the second half, Wake Forest went on an 11-0 run to pull within one point after a pair of Jonah Antonio free throws at the 12:14 mark. During that stretch, the Demon Deacons forced three Louisville turnovers and were led offensively by a Jalen Johnson three-pointer and four points from Daivien Williamson.

Despite the momentum shift, the Cardinals responded with a 9-2 run and Wake Forest was unable to get the game within one possession for the remainder of the contest. 

Stat of the Game

After averaging 15.3 turnovers through their first three ACC games, the Deacs turned it over a season-low 11 times against Louisville on Wednesday. The Cardinals entered the game ranked No. 24 in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency. 

Straight From Forbes

“I thought Louisville came ready to play, you could tell by their intensity and how hard they played in the first half. I thought they were really good in transition, they really moved the ball, they shot it at a high clip. I think they started out five-for-five from three, but they did go one-for-nine after that. They've got a really nice team, they're connected. Carlik Jones is a handful to guard, we switched up our looks on the ball screen a lot, and I thought we slowed him down a little bit in the second half when we started hedging and icing the ball screen. We were trying to just flat hedge in the beginning and it just wasn't very good. But all the credit goes to their team. They've got a lot of balance, and they've got high-major size at the wings, they've got big guards. Impressive players. 

“With our team, I think Louisville opened the door for us to win the game, and we didn't kick it in. We got it to a one possession game and we couldn't find a way to get a lead. We blew a shot at the rim, turned it over and they made a three. I was disappointed in our execution and attention to detail coming out of timeouts. Twice we blew sets coming out of timeouts, that's inexcusable. We didn't finish the half very well and obviously didn't start the second half very well. But we did get stops in the second half, like we said, they were one-for-nine from three after going five-for-five from three. But we can't shoot 20 percent from three and win games at our place. I'm going to have to go back and look, but I'm pretty sure we got a lot of wide open looks, and we've got to make those. 

“All in all, our kids competed hard against a nationally-ranked team, but at the end we still have a loss so we've got to learn from it. We've got another nationally-ranked team, Virginia Tech, coming here on Sunday that's playing really well with a lot of confidence and just beat Duke at home last night. We've got our work cut out for us. These kids will keep plugging, and I look forward to coaching them at the next practice." 

Up Next

Wake Forest will be back inside Joel Coliseum on Sunday for a 6 p.m. matchup against No. 20 Virginia Tech. That game will broadcast on ACC Network.

It will be a Demon Deacon double-header on ACC Network this Sunday, as the Wake Forest women's basketball team also tips off against Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, at 4 p.m.