Virginia Falls at Wake Forest 80-64
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) –James Johnson had 21 points while Ishmael Smith turned in a strong second-half performance Saturday to help Wake Forest beat Virginia 80-64.
Smith scored 13 of his 15 points after halftime for the Demon Deacons (14-8, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who bounced back from a rare home loss earlier this week. The Demon Deacons lost to Georgia Tech 89-83 on Wednesday to end their league-best 16-game home winning streak, but they never trailed.
Sean Singletary scored 21 points to lead the Cavaliers (11-11, 1-8), who hung around most of the way yet were unable to end the skid that has dragged them to the bottom of the league standings. Virginia has lost nine of 10, including eight straight ACC road games. Ryan Pettinella had 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Both teams needed this win badly. While the Cavaliers can’t get anything to go right just a season after tying North Carolina for the regular-season conference crown, the Demon Deacons are trying to shore up their postseason resume. Wake Forest faces a difficult finish with No. 2 Duke, the third-ranked Tar Heels and Maryland still looming on the schedule.
Smith, who already hit last-second baskets to beat Virginia Tech and Miami here this year, did his part to keep his young team moving forward under first-year coach Dino Gaudio. Time and time again, Smith came up with huge baskets to answer Virginia runs that kept the Cavaliers hanging around.
He drained a 3-pointer followed by a contested jumper over Jamil Tucker after Virginia had closed to five early in the second half. He came through with another 3 after the Cavaliers had closed to 57-54 midway through the half. He hit a driving basket past Singletary while drawing a foul to make it 63-58 with about 6 minutes left, then made a scooping shot on a drive for a 69-64 lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
The sophomore’s impressive shot started a 13-0 run to end the game, giving the Demon Deacons some momentum heading into Thursday’s game at Florida State.
Wake Forest shot 48 percent, including 10-for-21 from 3-point range. Virginia, which trailed by as many as 16, shot just 33 percent for the game.