Demon Deacons outrace Wolfpack in thriller, 83-79

Sallis’ career-high 33 points lead to momentum-building win
Guard Cameron Hildreth (2) drives through the lane for a bucket. Hildreth had 10 points and 3 rebounds in the matchup.
Guard Cameron Hildreth (2) drives through the lane for a bucket. Hildreth had 10 points and 3 rebounds in the matchup.
Isabella Parolini

Sometimes, revenge is the best medicine.

After a chaotic loss to the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh earlier this season, the return game on Feb. 10 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum proved to be just as much of a heated matchup for Wake Forest — if not more.

Early foul trouble interrupted the Demon Deacons’ gameplan. Center Efton Reid III (9pts, 5reb) earned two early fouls, sitting him for majority of the first half. In his stead came Matthew Marsh (0pts, 6reb), who had the tall task of guarding Wolfpack forwards DJ Burns Jr. (14pts, 4reb) and Ben Middlebrooks (0pts, 2reb). Reid returned for the latter part of the half — evading the risk that comes with picking up a third foul.

With the absence of Reid inside, Wake Forest found their footing through 3-pointers from Parker Friedrichsen (6pts, 2-5 3PT). The sharp-shooting freshman electrified the home crowd as the ball swung his way, scoring a pair of buckets from downtown in the first half.

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Soon after, though, the Wolfpack went on a run of their own, getting a series of buckets in transition. Behind buckets from Mohamed Diarra (13pts, 12reb) and Jayden Taylor (7pts, 6reb, 5ast), NC State found themselves up seven behind a 10-0 run.

“I thought the first half looked a lot more like their practice than ours,” Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said. “They really sped us up in the first half.”

The start of the middle-eight became a two-man battle between the Wolfpack’s DJ Horne and the Demon Deacons’ Hunter Sallis (33pts, 6reb). Horne had 19 points through the first 20 minutes, rivaling Sallis’ 18. Horne himself scored 12 of the Wolfpack’s last 14 points — all within the last four minutes of the first frame.

Embers from the fire that erupted this past January began to rise again near the end of the first half, as Horne and Demon Deacon guard Cameron Hildreth (10pts, 3reb) got into a tussle behind the Wake Forest basket. Both were assessed technicals and the Wolfpack went into halftime up six, 45-39.

Out of halftime, the two teams continued to trade buckets, and the Demon Deacons got to an even deficit with the Wolfpack by the under-16 media timeout.

The Demon Deacons soon found their stride in the middle of the second half through a pair of 3-point possessions. Kevin “Boopie” Miller (10pts, 6ast) was able to drive and dish out to a wide-open Andrew Carr (15pts, 7reb), who splashed a 3-pointer from the right corner. After a missed 3-point attempt on the other end by Taylor, Hildreth attacked the basket and absorbed contact for an old-fashioned three-point play.

“In the second half, I thought we got a lot of better shots,” Forbes said. “Our shot quality was better. We turned it over once. We got [defensive] stops.”

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack found themselves in foul trouble, with Middlebrooks and guard Michael O’Connell (2pts, 3reb) picking up four fouls each. Middlebrooks’ absence allowed Burns to flourish in the post, putting up eight second-half points.

Horne continued in his hot ways throughout the second half. The fifth-year guard scored a career-high for his time at NC State, scoring 31 points behind a mix of sharpshooting and cutting to the basket. When the Demon Deacons got ahead, more often than not, Horne was the one to answer with clutch baskets on the other end.

The two teams remained within distance of one another leading up to the final stages of the game, going into the final timeout tied at 79 with 27.1 seconds remaining.

Then came the play. 

On a “SLOB” play — or a sideline-out-of-bounds — the ball found the hands of Reid, who dished a high post pass to Carr down low, fighting through contact to get a score.

“Andrew’s a clutch player,” said Forbes. “I trust him. I trust them all, but it just seemed like the right call to make at the time.”

On the other end, it was Horne that came up short on a pull-up jumpshot — sending the Wolfpack packing back to Raleigh, 83-79.

“[Andrew] Carr’s basket at the end was a very good bucket,” NC State Coach Kevin Keatts said. “We tried to keep him off of his left shoulder, and I thought we did a better job limiting him earlier in the game.”

The Demon Deacons return on Monday night against fellow Tobacco Road rival Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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