Women’s basketball defeats Tigers, falls to Wolfpack

The Demon Deacons are 11-2 at home this season


Katie Romhilt

Jewel Spear shoots a contested three in the Feb. 5 win against Clemson.

Ian Steffensen, Sports Editor

Wake Forest women’s basketball continued the final stretch of its season by facing off against ACC foes Clemson and No. 22 NC State at home. Coming off a blowout loss to No. 23 Florida State, the Demon Deacons were looking to flip the script and regain their momentum. Wake Forest was able to return to their winning ways on Sunday against Clemson but could not get the job done against the Wolfpack on Thursday night. 

Junior guard Jewel Spear continued to dominate on Sunday against Clemson, netting 29 points as Wake Forest improved to 11-1 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum this season, the best winning percentage in program history.

Senior Kaia Harrison knocked down a triple from the right wing to put the Demon Deacons on the board. On the next possession, she drove hard to the basket and nailed the floater to add to her tally. The two sides continued to trade baskets, but the Tigers wouldn’t go away. Clemson went on a 9-0 run scoring points by driving to the basket, finishing at the rim and kicking it out to the open player for the three. Olivia Summiel put an end to their run, and got Wake Forest back on track, nailing a jumper from the elbow to cut the deficit to six. Spear got on the board hitting back-to-back contested threes to even the contest. The Tigers continued to attack the paint and increased their lead to four. On their final possession of the quarter, junior Demeara Hinds came up with the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Summiel who hit the triple and cut the deficit to just one. 

Wake Forest came out hot to start the second quarter, going on an 8-0 scoring run. The Demon Deacons lead was cut to four after the Tigers canned a triple on the other end, but sophomore Elise Williams made a great backdoor cut to the basket and finished the layup easily to maintain the lead. Harrison followed suit on the next possession, making another great cut to the basket and converting the easy layup. After the first half, Wake Forest led 28-22 going into the locker room. 

One of the biggest challenges for the Demon Deacons this season has been opening the door for scoring runs by their opposition. Clemson came out firing in the second half, scoring seven unanswered points to tie the game — a mere three minutes into the third quarter. Williams continued to attack the exposed Tigers’ paint with more backdoor cuts to give Wake Forest the 32-30 lead. With the game tied 34-34, Spear took the ball coast to coast and finished the layup at the low post. The Tigers began to catch on to the Demon Deacons offensive tactics and picked off several inside passes and converted them on the other end. After the third quarter, Wake Forest continued to lead 40-39. 

Clemson continued to be aggressive in the final frame, outscoring Wake Forest 12-3 in the first two minutes of the quarter. The Demon Deacons turned their offense on though, with Spear hitting a triple from the logo to cut the deficit to just five. The Tigers continued to attack the basket on the other end and extended their lead to nine with five minutes remaining. Wake Forest put the ball in their star’s hands with Spear bringing the Demon Deacons back from the brink. Spear caught fire and hit three triples to cap off an 11-2 scoring run by Wake Forest to tie up the contest. Clemson retook the lead, but senior Alexandria Scruggs hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line just as time expired on the shot clock to tie up the game. The Tigers had two chances to win the game with seconds left in the contest, but the Demon Deacons defense came up big with stops to take the game to overtime. 

The two sides traded baskets in overtime, but Williams broke the deadlock hitting a three from the top of the key to grow Wake Forest’s lead to four. Clemson answered on the other end, but the Demon Deacons continued to draw fouls and convert at the line. It was a hard-fought victory as Wake Forest closed out the contest 69-64. 

“This is one of those survive-and-advance games, and we are moving in the right direction,” head coach Megan Gebbia said. “We were grittier than them today, getting on the floor and getting loose balls. This is a huge step for us to win a game like this.”

On Thursday night, the Demon Deacons looked to continue their winning ways at home, facing off against No. 22 NC State. Williams put Wake Forest on the board with a contested triple from the left wing. The Wolfpack used their size to their advantage and attacked the paint for their baskets. Spear continued to do what she does best, creating space from her defenders with her dribbling and nailing the pull-up jump shots. The Demon Deacons’ weak interior defense allowed NC State to score easy baskets and stay in the contest. After one quarter of play, the two teams were tied at nine. 

Senior Niyah Becker got the scoring started in the second, driving hard to the basket and converting on the reverse layup. Wake Forest’s ability to extend possessions with offensive rebounds was key to their success. Harrison came up with the board and dished it to sophomore Alyssa Andrews for a wide-open three at the top of the key. The Wolfpack continued to attack the paint and capitalized on the Demon Deacons’ sloppy offensive play to go on a 8-0 scoring run to take the lead 21-16. Scruggs put an end to their run, backing down on her defender and finishing with a nice spin move to the basket. Harrison got her first points of the night, crossing up her defender and finishing with a nice layup. Spear connected on a deep two-pointer to send Wake Forest into the locker room trailing by one, 22-23.

The Demon Deacons have continued to come out flat from halftime, and the Wolfpack capitalized by going on another 8-0 scoring run. Scruggs continued to attack the paint and finished strong at the basket to end the scoring run and cut the deficit to nine. NC State capitalized on offensive rebounds and got second-chance points to maintain their lead. Spear hit a deep three from the logo to finish the quarter down six, 38-32. 

Spear continued where she left off in the third, driving to the basket and finishing strong to keep Wake Forest in it. However, NC State continued to control the offensive glass and convert on easy put-back attempts. The Wolfpack maintained their 10-point lead with less than a minute left, and a comeback was unlikely. The Demon Deacons continued to battle, but it was too little too late as they fell to NC State 42-51. 

“We just couldn’t get over the hump offensively — especially in the second half,” Gebbia added. “The bye is coming at the right time, and we need to take full advantage of it to make the most out of the remaining games this regular season.”

The Demon Deacons resume play against Georgia Tech on Thursday night at 7 p.m.