ACC Basketball: Wake Forest 75, Cal State-Fullerton 69
ANAHEIM, Calif. ó Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague soared over Cal State-Fullerton forward Gerald Anderson for a huge dunk, and teammate Chas McFarland rushed over to give Teague a hug.
The rest of the game wasn’t so easy for the 19th-ranked Demon Deacons, who overcame a slow start and held on for a 75-69 victory Thursday in the first round of the 76 Classic.
“It’s just win and advance and we were fortunate to do that,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. “I thought our guys played very hard. As they made a run at us, we kept our composure.”
Teague scored 24 points and shot 4-of-6 on 3-pointers for the Demon Deacons (4-0), who will play UTEP in the semifinals Friday. The Miners beat St. Mary’s 75-62.
Josh Akognon led Cal State-Fullerton (2-3) with 24 points.
Al-Farouq Aminu and McFarland added 14 points apiece for Wake Forest. Teague’s highlight-reel dunk over Anderson capped a 14-6 run that put the Demon Deacons in control after the score was tied 21-all in the first half.
“You’ve got to make that kind of play in that situation because guys can block your shot,” Teague said. “He was dunking all over us at the beginning of the game and I knew he was going to contest the shot so I tried to dunk it and it went in.”
Wake Forest led by as many as 15 early in the second half, but Fullerton chipped away at the lead by shooting 7-of-15 on 3s in the final 20 minutes after going 1-for-12 in the first half.
With his team trailing 62-48, Akognon hit a 3-pointer and Jacques Streeter made two during a 13-2 Fullerton run. One possession later, Akognon’s 3 pulled the Titans to 66-63.
“All year our defense has been pretty good,” Gaudio said. “They made some tough 3s, really tough 3s.”
Streeter finished with 13 points. Anderson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Cal State-Fullerton, which will play St. Mary’s in the consolation bracket.
Gaudio credited Wake Forest guard L.D. Williams with forcing Akognon into 9-for-25 shooting from the field. After chasing around the speedy Akognon for most of the game, Williams left with 1:30 remaining due to cramps. He’s expected to be fine.
“He contested shots, he made him make tough shots and I think he’s really a strong defender for us,” Gaudio said.
After beating its first three opponents by an average of 36.3 points, Wake Forest struggled to pull away from Fullerton. Despite having a clear size advantage, Wake Forest got outrebounded by six in the first half and the teams finished even on the boards at 43.
The Demon Deacons committed 11 of their 18 turnovers in the second half.