Wake Forest 79, High Point 63
WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Wake Forest’s players believe they’re ready for the start of the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
But the Demon Deacons also got a wake-up call Wednesday night, needing a key second-half run to beat High Point 79-63, ending their four-game losing streak.
J.T. Terrell scored 18 points off the bench for Wake Forest (7-8), which held the Panthers to just four field goals over the final 11 minutes in extending their lead to as many as 21 points.
Travis McKie added 13 points and Gary Clark and C.J. Harris had 11 each for the Demon Deacons, who open ACC play on Saturday against North Carolina State in Raleigh.
“All these players came here to play in the ACC, and the moment has arrived,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “It’s an opportunity to test where we are in our development and improvement as a team. We just need to go back to practice and work hard at getting better.”
Nick Barbour scored 12 points for the Panthers (5-8), who lost their fifth straight despite fighting back from a 12-point halftime deficit to pull within four twice early in the second half and within five with less than 11 minutes remaining.
The loss dropped High Point to 0-10 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams since moving from the NAIA to the NCAA Division I level in 1999. It also ended Wake Forest’s two-game losing streak against Big South teams this season.
The Demon Deacons had lost to Winthrop 83-73 on Nov. 22 in the NIT Season Tip-Off, and to Presbyterian 66-64 on Dec. 21.
“We’re all feeling good about our chances (in the ACC),” Terrell said. “We got off to a slow start this year, and we’ve struggled in certain areas. But we’re getting better and better, and I think we’re finally ready to show it.”
However, High Point looked like it would make it three straight in the opening minutes of the second half.
Down 38-26 at the break, the Panthers scored on 11 of their first 16 possessions and cut Wake Forest’s lead to 55-50 with 11:12 remaining.
“That was a wake-up call for us,” Terrell said. “They let us know the game wasn’t over yet.”
The Demon Deacons responded by stopping High Point on seven straight possessions while going on a 14-point run.
Clark’s 3-pointer gave Wake Forest a 69-50 lead with 7:27 left.
The Demon Deacons would then go ahead by 21 points twice, the last at 76-55 on Carson Desrosiers’ hook shot with 3:31 remaining.
“I thought that we could do that,” High Point coach Scott Cherry said. “We were excited to get it that close. But that’s been the story of our year. We get it close and get good looks at the basket, and it doesn’t happen for us.
“We thought we could play with them. I know they’ve struggled, but we felt we could give them a good run. Unfortunately, we hit that stretch … and they got away from us.”
Terrell scored 14 points in the first half for the Demon Deacons, all coming at key moments.
He scored seven straight points during a 9-3 run, capped by a three-point play that put Wake Forest ahead 15-7 with 11:18 left. Terrell nailed a jumper with 4:51 remaining that put the Demon Deacons up 27-16, their first double-digit lead, then drained a 3-pointer with 1:31 left to give Wake Forest a 36-22 margin, its biggest lead of the half.
“Everything is new for these guys,” Bzdelik said. “Yes, we’ve had our struggles and challenges, but I’ve also seen this team growing and getting better. That’s what it’s all about — getting better.”