"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

MBB overcomes first-half struggles to beat Charleston Southern

Four Demon Deacons score in double digits on the way to 71-56 victory
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Cooper Sullivan
Junior guard Hunter Sallis drives to the rim against Charleston Southern. Sallis finished Friday’s game with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.

Heavy plates of mashed potatoes and gravy were still sitting in Wake Forest’s stomachs as they started Friday afternoon’s game against Charleston Southern. Wake Forest was sluggish, lethargic and losing going into the half, but after a quick rest, the Demon Deacons were rejuvenated, beating the Buccaneers, 71-56.

Thanks to an aggressive press defense, Wake Forest (3-3) was able to stuff Charleston Southern (2-4), holding the visiting team to zero points from the field during two five-minute periods. The Demon Deacons outscored the Buccaneers 43-24 in the second half, including 20 points from the free-throw line. 

“It wasn’t a pretty game,” said Head Coach Steve Forbes. “But as a team that averages 78 points a game, [Charleston Southern] got held to 56, so that’s a positive.” 

For the fifth time this season, four Demon Deacons scored in the double digits. Junior guard Cameron Hildreth led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Redshirt sophomore guard Kevin “Boopie” Miller tacked on 14 points of his own, while junior guard Hunter Sallis and senior forward Andrew Carr tacked on 12 points each. Carr also corralled 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the sixth of his career.

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After a back-and-forth of baskets for the opening 10 minutes, Charleston Southern gained control of the scoreboard. This was not necessarily because of the Buccaneer’s stellar shooting performance (12-25 FG, 4-11 3PT in the first half) but rather Wake Forest’s inability to get any offensive rhythm going (10-25 FG, 4-9 3PT). During the firsth half, the Demon Deacons only scored on consecutive shots twice, and they had three consecutive missed shots three times. 

“I thought we had the game going the way we wanted it to go in the first half defensively, and then it changed on four possessions,” Forbes said. “We went under the ball screen, they banged the three. We came back down, when we trapped the post or monster the post, the guy who was guarding the passer cannot leave the passer. It’s the easiest pass back out. We left him for some reason. They kicked it out, banged a three to make it a 6-0 run. They came down two direct-line drive layups. Time out and it’s a 10-0 run.”

With three minutes remaining and the score 30-20, Wake Forest went on an 8-0 run, making the deficit two. There was still ample frustration with the performance, however.

“Honestly, we are a really mature team, so we just come into halftime, we usually have those conversations ourselves, and then Forbes will come in and say his part,” Hildreth said. “We’re still working together, it’s still early in the season, we’re going to be fine.”

The home team was still a bit slow coming out of the locker room, until freshman guard Aaron Clark subbed onto the floor for the first minutes of his collegiate career. 

On the first defensive possession involving Clark, he notched one of the Demon Deacons’ nine steals, setting up a Hildreth layup. Two minutes later, Clark recorded one of the Demon Deacons’ three blocks on the day, although it was quickly turned over by Miller and turned into a CSU score. 

Honestly, we are a really mature team, so we just come into halftime, we usually have those conversations ourselves, and then Forbes will come in and say his part,” Hildreth said. “We’re still working together, it’s still early in the season, we’re going to be fine.

— Cameron Hildreth, Guard

That basket by the Buccaneers put the visiting team in the lead for the last time. Aggressive press defense by Sallis (3 STL), Miller (2 STL) and freshman forward Marqus Marion (2 STL, BLK) led to 15 forced turnovers and 11 points off turnovers, including an inbounds swipe under the basket by Miller that made the half-empty Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum crowd sound full.

“I think the press really sped them up a bit,” Sallis said. “It also allowed us to show a little bit of aggression defensively, and it kind of got us going. It brought a little bit of energy.”

The energy clearly carried over to the other side of the court —Wake Forest scored 20 points in the paint and nine points in transition during the second half. If the Demon Deacons weren’t scoring on their layups, they would easily score from the stripe, going 24-for-27.

“We have guys that can [shoot three-pointers], and that doesn’t mean not to take them — take what is given,” Forbes said. “Actually, we’ve been working really hard on driving-kick, and so we were looking for that, but we had angles to the basket. So we got there, and we have bigger physical guards that can get there. We did a good job of putting pressure on the rim and made free throws.”

It is still a big question mark as to how Wake Forest can create consistent basketball in both halves of the game — Hildreth thinks it is a combination of “being aggressive from the get-go” and finding a team identity — but Forbes knows his team needs it fast.

Wake Forest will finish the calendar year with six-straight home games, including against Florida (4-2) in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Cooper Sullivan, Sports Editor
Cooper Sullivan is a senior from Winston-Salem majoring in Communication with double minors in Journalism and Art History. He enjoys long walks on the beach, dancing like no one is watching and "committing to the bit".

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