ACC Basketball: Wake Forest 67, Gardner-Webb 59
WINSTON-SALEM ó After missing Wake Forestís first nine games, 7-foot center Ty Walker is making up for lost time.
Walker finished with career highs of 12 points and nine rebounds as Wake Forest hit key free throws in the final minute to hold off Gardner-Webb 67-59 on Sunday.
Walker, who sat out the games for violating school rules during the offseason, had two points, three rebounds and a block in 9 minutes in his first game back against Seton Hall on Dec. 10. He more than tripled that Sunday, hitting 6 of 10 from the field in 23 minutes and scoring 10 of his points in the second half.
ěIím super-motivated right now,î said Walker, whose five offensive boards in the second half came mainly on putbacks of his teammatesí misses. ěEven with this game, Iím not satisfied. But Iím not worried about my personal stats ó only in helping the team win.î
C.J. Harris scored a team-high 18 points, Travis McKie added 15 and Chase Fischer had 11 for the Demon Deacons (7-4), who built a double-digit lead in the second half after trailing by three points at the break.
Tashan Newsome had a career-high 24 points for the Runniní Bulldogs (6-7), who shot just 36.8 percent (21 of 57) but still cut an 11-point Wake Forest lead to 60-56 on Kevin Hartleyís 3-pointer with 59 seconds remaining.
However, the Demon Deacons ó whose biggest lead, 56-45, came on a McKie jumper with 7:20 remaining ó hit 7 of 8 from the free throw line over the final 45 seconds to seal it.
ěWeíre three down at the half … and we really wanted to win this game,î Demon Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ěBut this is a young team thatís learning how to deal with time and score situations. So these games are really big for us, having to battle through adversity and find ways to win.î
Wake Forest opened the second half with a 12-2 run, capped by a Harris 3-pointer with 16:12 left, to take a 42-35 lead. The Demon Deacons pushed that into double digits for the first time on a McKie jumper to go up 48-38 with 11:19 remaining.
After McKie put Wake Forest ahead 56-45, Newsome scored six of Gardner-Webbís next eight points to cut the Demon Deaconsí lead to 56-53 with 3:53 remaining. But Walker hit a layup and Harris followed with a pair of free throws to push Wake Forestís lead back to seven points.
ěExperience is the best teacher,î Harris said. ěGoing through stuff like that, you mature and grow and learn how to deal with situations like that.î
Having Walker back certainly helped in overcoming the situation.
ěWalker was the difference,î Runniní Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann said. ěHis length and size were clearly the difference.î
The Runniní Bulldogs didnít play the first half like a team that had gone 0-for-14 against the ACC.