Wake Forest ends 4-game slide by beating Hokies 73-70
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Losing tight games turned out to be contagious for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons hope winning them is, too.
Wake Forest held on to beat Virginia Tech 73-70 on Saturday behind 19 points from Codi Miller-McIntyre.
Dinos Mitoglou and Mitchell Wilbekin each scored 15 to help the Demon Deacons (10-12, 2-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap their four-game losing streak and win a tight one after a stretch of remarkably close losses.
In the past 2 1/2 weeks, they’ve lost in overtime at Syracuse, in double-OT at Florida State and at the regulation buzzer at Clemson.
”I think we’re starting to learn, especially now winning a close game, how important each possession is,” Miller-McIntyre said.
Wilbekin and Madison Jones each hit two key free throws down the stretch, with Jones’ pair making it a three-point game with 11.1 seconds remaining.
Wake Forest didn’t foul – because, coach Danny Manning said, ”I just wanted us to guard” – and Justin Bibbs’ open 3-pointer from the corner with about 5 seconds left bounced off the rim. It went out of bounds off the Demon Deacons with 0.4 seconds left.
Devin Wilson inbounded it to Ahmed Hill, who didn’t get his errant stepback attempt from 3 off before the buzzer.
”I’ll take those again right now,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams said of those shot attempts.
Miller-McIntyre admitted Wake Forest ”kind of got lucky on that last play, and that comes with locking in on every possession.”
Adam Smith scored 12 points to lead Virginia Tech (9-12, 1-7).
The Hokies went 17 for 20 from the free-throw line but lost their second tight game in seven days – they also lost by three at home against No. 2 Virginia – and remained winless on the road.
Wilson and Hill each had 11 while three players – Malik Muller, Christian Beyer and Bibbs – each scored 10 for the Hokies.
They took their only lead of the second half on Will Johnston’s layup in the lane that made it 65-64 with just under 2 minutes left.
Wilbekin countered with a 3 from the right corner that put the Demon Deacons up by two with 1:30 remaining.
After Bibbs tied it at 67 with two free throws with 1:18 remaining, Wake Forest went ahead to stay on Devin Thomas’ layup that made it 69-67 with 59.3 seconds left.
Virginia Tech: Bibbs, who averages a team-leading 13.6 points, didn’t start in his first game back after a concussion but checked in with 12:15 left in the first half and played 20 minutes.
Wake Forest: Mitoglou, who hadn’t started since an 83-53 loss at Arkansas on Nov. 19, replaced Darius Leonard in the lineup.
Thomas was held to nine points and just five shot attempts, snapping his seven-game streak of scoring in double figures, because the Hokies were determined to keep him from beating them. He matched his career high with five assists – including one on Wilbekin’s big 3 in the final minutes. ”His patience was very good,” Manning said. ”He took on the double team, let our guys get to their spots and found the open man.”
Both teams’ poor conference records can at least partly be blamed on the schedule. Virginia Tech entered with six conference losses coming to teams who began the day a combined 35-12 in ACC play while Wake Forest’s seven ACC defeats came against schools that are 32-23 in the league.
Virginia Tech is at Syracuse on Tuesday night.
Wake Forest is home against N.C. State on Tuesday night.
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