Wake beats Irish 65-58 to remain perfect at home
Devin Thomas couldn't miss for Wake Forest. With the game on the line, neither could Codi Miller-McIntyre.
Thomas scored 21 points on near-perfect shooting and Miller-McIntyre had six of his eight points in the final 2 minutes of the Demon Deacons' 65-58 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday.
"In the second half, when they went up, I just didn't want to lose," Miller-McIntyre said. "So it kind of just clicked to be aggressive and go to the basket."
Travis McKie finished with 14 points, including four key free throws in the final minute for the Demon Deacons (14-6, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Garrick Sherman scored 20 points but the Fighting Irish (11-9, 2-5) were denied their first ACC road victory.
"Defensively, we probably did enough," coach Mike Brey said. "You'd like to be better in two possessions, but ... we put so much pressure on our 'D' because we couldn't be efficient enough offensively."
Sherman's free throw with 2:24 left put Notre Dame up 54-53, before Wake Forest scored on each of the final six possessions of its 13th straight home win.
Miller-McIntyre gave the Demon Deacons the lead for good with a pretty across-the-lane drive with just under 2 minutes left.
After Pat Connaughton missed a 3-pointer, Miller-McIntyre added two free throws with 1:26 left to give Wake Forest a 57-54 lead, and the sophomore guard followed Sherman's layup with a jumper to put the Demon Deacons up 59-56 with 46.4 seconds remaining. McKie then hit four free throws in the final 27.6 seconds to ice it.
"Sometimes when you win on the road, man, you've got to score some points to escape," Brey said. "Wake scored the heck out of the ball, and you're just not going to catch them."
Coron Williams added 11 points and three 3-pointers for Wake Forest, which shot nearly 49 percent while moving back over .500 in league play and reaching the 14-win mark for the first time under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik — with more than a month still to play.
The Demon Deacons won 13 in each of the last two seasons.
"I think we're starting to get it now," Thomas said.
Eric Atkins scored 13 points and Connaughton added 10 for Notre Dame, which has lost five of six after its upset of then-No. 7 Duke.
Thomas — who finished two points shy of the season high he set in the opener against Colgate — made his first 10 shots before missing a layup with about 3½ minutes left in a 53-all game and finishing 10 of 11 from the field.
"Coach just gave me a lot of confidence," Thomas said. "He just told me to keep shooting the ball. When coach says that, I think for any player, that gives you a lot of confidence and no worries, and my mindset was totally different today."
The Demon Deacons twice led by eight in the second half, the last coming on McKie's layup with 7½ minutes left, before Notre Dame tightened things up down the stretch. Demetrius Jackson's free throw with 3:50 remaining tied it at 53, and Sherman gave the Irish their short-lived late lead two possessions after that.
"It's composure," McKie said. "Last year, when teams made a run, I think we kind of self-destructed. I think this year, we're more comfortable in these situations — especially at home."
Wake Forest dominated the first half but only led 25-21 while failing to fully capitalize on the Irish's full-on shooting drought. Notre Dame missed nine consecutive shots and 12 of 13 during a brutal 7½-minute stretch.
"The practice stats say they shoot it well," Brey said of his players. "But not tonight."
Still, the Demon Deacons never could push their lead out of single figures, maxing it out at 25-16 with 3:41 left on a layup by Thomas.