WBB defeats Akron, moves on in WNIT

A strong second half propelled the Demon Deacons over the Zips


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

The women’s basketball team will play Middle Tennessee in Round Two.

Ian Steffensen , Staff Writer

On Thursday, Wake Forest women’s basketball faced off against Akron in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. A big second half propelled the Demon Deacons to a 71-59 opening-round victory and the next round of the NIT.

“I could not be more proud of this team with what we have been through throughout the year, but especially this week,” Head Coach Jen Hoover said. “It was just a great overall team effort. We knew that is what it would take tonight.”

From the beginning of the game, the Demon Deacons and Zips traded baskets. Senior forward Christina Morra returned to the lineup in full force, scoring six of the first seven points for Wake Forest and controlling the glass with three rebounds in the first. The Demon Deacons trailed 14-13 after one quarter. 

The freshmen got Wake Forest going in the second. Freshman guard Elise Williams nailed a triple from the left wing and forward Mayala Cowles followed up with a basket to allow Wake Forest to take an 18-14 lead. A breakaway layup later on from junior guard Kaia Harrison allowed the Demon Deacons to extend their lead to five. But the Zips were quick to answer and went on a 4-0 scoring run to close out the half. Wake Forest led 26-25 going into the locker room at halftime. 

The Demon Deacons defense was the story of the second half, holding Akron to just two baskets in the opening five minutes of the third quarter. Triples from freshman forward Alyssa Andrews and Raegyn Conley extended Wake Forest’s lead to seven entering the fourth. 

Andrews set the precedent for the Demon Deacons as they continued their hot shooting in the second. Wake Forest shot 51.5% from the field in the second half compared to 26.5% in the first. Andrews went coast to coast after a steal and converted on the and-one to net her 18th point, one shy of her season-high. 

The Demon Deacon lead was extended to double digits 58-44, but the door was still left open as Akron went on a 7-0 scoring run to cut into the lead.

 Wake Forest was able to hold on due to a strong second half and secured the victory. Andrews scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half and defense was a strong presence with Wake Forest totaling a season-best 13 steals, and 19 forced turnovers. 

Wake Forest will move on to the second round, which marks the sixth time in seven WNIT appearances that Wake Forest has advanced to the second round or further. The Demon Deacons will face Middle Tennessee on Monday.