Eagles prey on men’s basketball senior night

Wake Forest plays Syracuse on Friday night to round out the regular season


Mike Liu

Graduate transfer Tyree Appleby, one of Wake Forest’s senior night honorees, puts up a jump shot.

Aaron Nataline, Sports Editor

Tuesday night’s contest displayed why teams honor their seniors before their last home game commences. After celebrating senior Grant van Beveren and graduates Tyree Appleby and Daivien Williamson’s final performances in the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Demon Deacons (18-12, 10-9) fell to Boston College (15-15, 9-10) 71-69. 

The game repeated a strict and deflating pattern. Wake Forest exploded with energy and took a convincing lead, only for that lead to dissipate during uninspiring stretches of defense. The second half followed this structure in the most extreme form possible with the Eagles going on a 19-3 run. After coming out of halftime with a six-point lead, the Demon Deacons were decimated by Boston College’s Quinten Post (19 PTS) and his out-muscling in, well, the post. His 13 second-half points largely turned the momentum in the Eagles’ favor. 

 “It’s about execution,” Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said of his team’s inconsistency. “We got up 12-2, they came back. We had a nice little six-point lead at half, we came out for the second half and got it up to 10. And then we quit guarding…we gave up three-straight three-point plays.”

Boston College had been scoring at will from the first media timeout of the second half (68.97 FG%) until the nine-minute mark. 

The first half differed in that Wake Forest was able to win back its point advantage by the buzzer — the Demon Deacons led for 19 minutes. Appleby sparked the offense by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers with Bobi Klintman, whose shot the graduate guard also assisted. Appleby followed up that dime by jumping a passing lane and finishing hard at the rim on a fastbreak.

“I felt like we only had two guys really show up to play tonight — the two seniors, [Williamson] and [Appleby],” Forbes said. “[Appleby] and [Williamson] were 9-for-11 from two, and the rest of the team was 4-14. Our offense was really poor.”

Appleby and Williamson were also the catalysts in bringing the Demon Deacons back in the second half. After hitting back-to-back threes, Appleby converted a defensive rebound — generated from sophomore Matthew Marsh glassing an Eagles shot — into another fastbreak layup. In the last six minutes of the game, Williamson (20 PTS) piled on 11 points to bring his team within one. Two of Appleby’s six assists resulted in a pair of three balls from Williamson, and the Winston-Salem native hit a third from the corner with 45 seconds remaining.

With the game knotted at 69, the last possession of the Wake Forest defense was anything but nice. Makai Ashton-Langford managed to knock down the game-clinching shot for the Eagles with two seconds left off a funky step-through floater that went uncontested by help defense. 

The Demon Deacons end the 2022-2023 campaign 13-3 at home. Either Wake Forest, Boston College or Syracuse (16-14, 9-10), will earn the highest seed in the first day of ACC tournament play. To avoid this and play during the second day, Wake Forest must beat Syracuse on March 4 and see Boston College lose to Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-14) on the same day. 

If both the Demon Deacons and the Eagles win their final games, tiebreakers will come into play since they drew in their face-to-face regular season games.

Correction March 18: An earlier version of this article misidentified the photographer of the featured image. That has been corrected.