Demon Deacons outfight the Irish

Klintman’s double-double sends Wake Forest to a 66-58 win


Evan Harris

Lucas Taylor jumps to shoot a layup.

Aaron Nataline, Sports Editor

Wake Forest (18-11, 10-8 ACC) managed to fend off the Fighting Irish (10-19, 2-16) from the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum this past Saturday, Feb. 25 with a 66-58 victory. 

This latest ACC win felt mandatory, not only because of the Demon Deacons’ recent pair of defeats but because of Damari Monsanto’s injury against NC State. The team and its fans needed a game that showed Wake Forest still has the personnel to win late-season contests.

“It’s been a little tough since the loss at NC State because [Mosanto] is really important — not only to our team,” Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said. “He had surgery this morning. It was very successful. They had to fix his patella and clean up his meniscus, and he’ll be out for six to eight months.”

The Demon Deacons put on a great all-around performance on the floor against Notre Dame. All eight players that entered the game found the bottom of the net. Freshman Bobi Klintman, who started in the absence of Monsanto, proved once again that he is an exciting young talent with a critical double-double: 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“It was an amazing experience,” Klintman said. “It was my first start, so you know, I’m just happy I can contribute to the team and help us get this win.”

Graduate Tyree Appleby also delivered a strong performance against the Fighting Irish. On top of his usual offensive masterclass (21 PTS, 6 AST), the guard totaled four steals. His first opened up the scoring for Wake Forest after he took an intercepted pass for a fastbreak lay-up. 

The half-court offense could stall at times for the Demon Deacons without a sniper like Monsanto to fearlessly drain shots, but Appleby knew who to look for beyond the arc. Twice in the first half he dished the ball to Klintman in his patented corner spot, where the freshman drained the 3-pointers.

Notre Dame refused to be intimidated by the home crowd’s reactions to Klintman and Appleby’s connection. The Fighting Irish came into this game familiar with the three-ball, having made the third most in the conference. They sank nine in the first half, all the while creating the spacing for guards Ryan Cormac and Trey Wurtz, who scored 12 points a piece, to attack the midrange.

Ven-Allen Lubin, a positionless freshman for the Fighting Irish, led the charge when Wake Forest hurriedly went to guard the arc. His 19 points came in a plethora of shots around the basket as his athleticism made any look at the basket a fine one. His contributions were crucial in Notre Dame maintaining a handle on the pace of the game early on, and his squad led 20-15 after the second media timeout.

Luckily for the Demon Deacons, Klintman was not the only player to step up with more minutes. Sophomore Lucas Taylor — in his first game since Dec. 14 — drained two pivotal three-pointers in the first half. His second began an 11-2 run that left Wake Forest on top 32-27. 

In retaliation of pushback from the Fighting Irish, junior Andrew Carr then brought the team into halftime up 39-36 with five straight points to fill out an impressive stat line of nine points, five rebounds and two blocks. 

Wake Forest knew they could come out stronger in the second half. If shots were not going to fall easily (35.6 FG%), the Demon Deacons would have to step up on defense.

They managed to do just that for the next 20 minutes. Though Lubin once again came out strong with back-to-back buckets for Notre Dame, the Demon Deacons shut down the 3-point line. After making nine in the first half, the Fighting Irish did not connect with a deep ball for the remainder of the game. Sophomore Cameron Hildreth stood out as the pick-and-pop disruptor as he constantly pestered opposing guards at the arc.

“What’s not going to show up in the box score with [Hildreth] is how well he defended,” Forbes said. “Dane Goodwin was playing really well coming into this game. He had five points. [Mosanto] guarded him last time and bothered him with his length, so I was a little worried about that. [Hildreth] went over and over and over on the ball screen every time on Goodwin.”

On the other end of the court, second chances fueled the Wake Forest offense. The Demon Deacons secured 15 offensive rebounds to Notre Dame’s five on the game, and it led to necessary sparks in scoring. After cleaning up the glass at the 12-minute mark, Marsh hit Appleby for one of his five 3-pointers to take a 12-point lead.

The lead hit its peak at 14 points after Taylor threw an alley-oop to Klintman that blew the roof off the LJVM. From there, without the space to create shots from deep, Notre Dame never truly pressured the Demon Deacons the rest of the way to the buzzer. 

The win in Wake Forest’s third-to-last regular season game will hopefully begin a short streak to close out play before the ACC tournament. 

“It’s important for us to win so that we don’t have to play [in the first round of the ACC tournament],” Forbes claimed. “What we are trying to do is get the best seed we can get in the tournament, and then we have to win it. We have to all be honest with ourselves that we have to win that tournament to get a bid for the [NCAA] Tournament.”

The Demon Deacons will play their last home match against Boston College on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.