"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

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

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Demon Deacons crumble in second half against Pitt

Men’s Basketball struggles on the road during critical stretch of season
Guard Hunter Sallis (23) looks to move the ball around Pitt guard Ishmael Leggett. Sallis had 22 points in the matchup. (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

You can’t quit while you’re ahead, especially in February. 

But the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (13-7, 5-4) continued to stumble on Wednesday night, blowing yet another halftime lead on the road during ACC play against the Pittsburgh Panthers (13-8, 4-6). It’s the fourth straight conference matchup away that Wake Forest has dropped this season. 

“It’s frustrating because we’ve got a good basketball team,” Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said after the loss. 

Wake Forest started the game to the tune of its other conference road games this season, playing what looked like near-dominant ball. Center Efton Reid III’s (14 PTS, 10 REB, 1 BLK) double-double helped lead Wake’s first half paint performance, where the Demon Deacons both outrebounded Pitt and outscored them 20-6 down low. Sophomore guard Hunter Sallis (22 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST), meanwhile, was the only player in the game to enter double-digit scoring in the period, doing so in just the first ten minutes. 

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After the loss, however, Forbes repeatedly criticized what he found to be a lack of defensive effort from his team in the first half, despite Wake Forest holding Pitt to just 27 points in the period — including a five-minute scoring drought before halftime. 

“We can’t come out and defend like that in the first half,” Forbes said. “I just don’t think that we played hard enough.”

Forbes’ criticism of the defensive effort materialized in the second half as Wake Forest allowed three Pitt players to post double-digit scoring in the period alone. The Demon Deacons themselves, meanwhile, recorded seven turnovers and continued to have the ball taken away. 

Once Pitt buried five of six straight shots from the field to catch up with Wake Forest at 53-all, the Panthers took a nine-point lead inside three minutes remaining, dooming the Demon Deacons. 

Despite being a top-scoring team in the ACC, Wake Forest has struggled playing from ahead during away conference games. Although this team has remained perfect at home so far, looming showdowns with NC State and No. 7 Duke on their homecourt could threaten Wake’s record leading up to March. 

Wake Forest’s next game will be at home, as the team hosts the Syracuse Orange (14-7, 5-5) at the LJVM Coliseum this Saturday at 7:45pm. The game will air live on The CW.

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Andrew Braun, Sports Editor
Andrew is a freshman from Wrightsville Beach, N.C. intending to major in politics and international affairs and minor in journalism. Outside of the OGB, he is a member of a capella group Innuendo and Model United Nations. In his free time, you can find him playing bass and guitar, watching only the most obscure NBA matchups and paddle surfing at the beach.

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