Wake Forest’s three-headed monster spears the Seminoles

Hildreth, Monsanto and Carr lead the way; Demon Deacons shoot 53% from behind the arc.


Cooper Sullivan

Andrew Carr goes for the contested layup against Florida State’s Cameron Corhen. The junior forward finished the night with 22 points and four rebounds.

Cooper Sullivan, Senior Writer

The lights in the rafters were still on after Wednesday night’s game, but on the floor, Wake Forest (12-5, 4-2) shot the lights out on its way to a 90-75 victory over Florida State (5-12, 3-3) at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Sophomore Cameron Hildreth led all players in scoring with a career-high 23 points, as junior teammates Damari Monsanto and Andrew Carr followed close behind with 22 points each. Although the Seminoles were in control of the contest early on, they were eventually no match for the Demon Deacon’s overpowering offensive attack.

“You have to give Wake Forest a lot of credit,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They executed their game plan flawlessly. They had 50 paint touches — in other words, the highest 3-point percentage shooting in college basketball is what you call a kickout three — and so many times they were able to get into the paint and kick out for threes after they collapsed the defense. [We] gave them a very high percentage of looks on the floor.”

Wake Forest converted 53.8% (14/26) of their 3-point attempts against Hamilton’s defense, their highest mark all season. Monsanto swished a staggering six 3-pointers, sending a Joel Coliseum crowd — full of students for the first time since finals — into a frenzy with each shot.

“He shot the living crap out of it,” remarked Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes. “Every time he shot it, I thought it was going in, and it was.”

Even though “Deadshot Damari” said that he was going to “just keep shooting,” Forbes commended the redshirt junior for not chasing the triple on every possession. Forbes noted that this was an aspect of Monsanto’s game that has matured over the course of the season.

In a game where big men Matthew Marsh, Davion Bradford and Zach Keller were practically invisible on both ends of the court — their only combined statistics were three rebounds and two fouls — the Demon Deacons had to rely on their smaller, shiftier guards to make a sizable impact on the game. Hildreth not only led the team in points but also in steals (4) and rebounds (6). His physically forceful drives to the hoop would never end in Florida State’s favor; he either muscled a bucket, kicked out to an open Monsanto, Carr (2/2 3PT) or Tyree Appleby (16 PTS, 4/11 3PT) or earned a trip to the free-throw line.

“Cam is really good off the bounce, it’s hard to guard him,” Forbes said. “There’s a fine line with him when he gets to the basket off two feet — does he shoot it or does he kick it out — and I thought he had pretty good balance with that tonight. Maybe a couple times he could have kicked it out, but I think he drew fouls. He’s become a very proficient free-throw shooter, and he had a big night.”

Forbes wasn’t the only coach impressed by Hildreth’s all-around performance, as Hamilton complimented the sophomore’s improvement from the previous season.

“He’s got a level of maturity that I think is just outstanding,” the Seminoles coach said. Hamilton said that overall team maturity was one of the key differences between the two programs, noting that none of his players have been in the program for longer than two years.

Wake Forest’s maturity was on full display throughout the game, where short stretches of lapsed focus and frustration could have easily spiraled into something detrimental. For a six-minute stretch during the first half, the Demon Deacons could not buy a bucket. Rebounds were sparse, and the team even struggled to get off a clean pass. Their three-point lead quickly turned into a six-point deficit. Three sub rotations, two timeouts and one angry Forbes speech later, the home team finally got comfortable on the court. Wake Forest retook the lead 10 minutes until halftime and never looked back.

“It’s an old John Wooden thing, ‘be quick, but don’t hurry.’ We slowed down and then we made better plays,” Forbes said.

Even when Florida State tried to challenge the lead, bringing it back to a two-point game four minutes later or working a 20-point deficit down to 12 — a scene that had Forbes and Co. acting as if they were down 12 — it was Wake Forest’s experience and composure that put the game away for good.

“We’ve been in different positions throughout the whole season so far,” Hildreth said. “We’ve been in positions where it’s been really close, and we’ve lost — we’ve been up 20 and lost, like LSU for example. So every game we learn. We come to practice, and we learn, and like we said in the second-to-last media timeout, we said ‘we can’t have another Louisville.’ We just got to stay composed, get to our fundamentals on offense, do what we are supposed to do on defense, and we will be fine. That’s what we did.”