Boopie Miller (0) dribbles near half-court while being guarded by Notre Dame’s Markus Burton (3). Burton had 31 points in the matchup. (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)
Boopie Miller (0) dribbles near half-court while being guarded by Notre Dame’s Markus Burton (3). Burton had 31 points in the matchup. (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

Wake Forest fails to finish against Notre Dame, falls 70-65

The Demon Deacons’ 2-8 road record could complicate their postseason hopes

“It’s been the same story for us on the road pretty much the entire year,” Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said after his team’s away loss on Tuesday night. 

It was once again a game of two halves for Wake Forest (18-11, 10-8) as the Demon Deacons fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-17, 6-11), 70-65. 

Coming off of their largest win this season against No. 10 Duke at home this past Saturday, the Demon Deacons looked to continue their momentum in the first half of Tuesday’s game. 

The team shot 50% or better from both the field and 3-point range through the first twelve minutes, ultimately scoring 43 first-half points. Guards Cameron Hildreth (15 PTS, 8 REB) and sophomore Kevin “Boopie” Miller (16 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST) did most of the heavy lifting in the period, each entering double-digit scoring while powering their team to lead 43-38 at the half. 

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But while Wake’s offense looked to be firing, their defense couldn’t find a way to stop Notre Dame’s standout freshman guard Markus Burton (31 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST) from posting half of the Fighting Irish’s 38 first-half points. 

“We had a really hard time guarding Markus Burton,” Forbes said after the game. “He’s a really good player, and we knew that coming in.” 

If the first half was defined by impressive offensive performances, the second period was nothing but a struggle by both teams to put points on the board — an issue Wake has struggled with all season. Each team shot below 30% from the field and sub-20% from range, with Wake shooting 1-of-12 from the field in one stretch, while Notre Dame made only one of its 13 field goal attempts in another. But in the end, another solid first-half performance from Wake Forest on the road would be spoiled by yet another comeback from the home team. 

“In the second half, we played good defense and couldn’t score,” Forbes said. “It was just a tale of an ineptitude in both halves on one end of the floor. We couldn’t put the two together.” 

Headed into Tuesday’s matchup with a win over ranked Duke on their resume, Wake Forest was projected to be seeded in the upcoming NCAA Tournament this March, according to sources such as ESPN’s “Bracketology.” Now, having gone 2-8 on the road this season and with a loss to a bottom-of-conference team like Notre Dame, the Demon Deacons’ postseason hopes of making the national tournament could be in jeopardy. 

Continuing their last road trip of the season this upcoming Saturday with prospects of keeping the dream alive, Wake Forest will head to Blacksburg, VA to face Virginia Tech. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the CW.

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