No. 3 Wake Forest holds off Bearcats
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) – Eric Williams poured in a career-high 29
points and grabbed six rebounds to lead No. 3 Wake Forest to a hard-fought
74-70 win over 20th-ranked Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena.
Chris Paul added 21 points and seven assists for the Demon Deacons (16-2), who
rebounded from a 91-83 overtime setback to Florida State last Tuesday to win
for the 11th time in their last 12 games.
Eric Hicks scored 18 points for the Bearcats (15-3), who have dropped two of
their past three contests. Armein Kirkland chipped in 14 points and seven
boards in the setback.
Wake Forest led by just one at halftime, but quickly opened up a nine-point
edge early in the second half. Justin Gray’s three-pointer with 15:45
remaining capped a 13-5 spurt to begin the half and made it 52-43.
The lead then grew to 11 points on Jamaal Levy’s layup moments later, but
Cincinnati hung around and closed within 58-52 on Jason Maxiell’s bucket with
11 minutes left. The Bearcats continued to inch closer as they closed the gap
to 64-61 on Chadd Moore’s layup with 5:05 to play in the game.
Cincinnati refused to let the Demon Deacons pull away in the final minutes as
it made it a two-point game at 70-68 when James White netted two free throws
with 45 seconds remaining.
Paul then missed a runner in the lane with 23 seconds left and the Bearcats
grabbed the loose ball with one final chance. Maxiell, though, missed a short
turnaround jumper with 12 seconds to play and Levy grabbed the loose ball
and was immediately fouled. Levy calmly sank both foul shots to stake Wake to
a 72-68 edge with 10.2 seconds left.
Jihad Muhammad then took it coast-to-coast to again bring the Bearcats within
two, but Taron Downey sealed the win for the Demon Deacons with two foul
Wake Forest came out sizzling as it scored the game’s first eight points,
keyed by a pair of three-pointers from Vytas Danelius.
The Demon Deacons widened their lead to 14-5 on Williams’ slam dunk with 14:53
remaining in the first half and the margin rose to 12 points on another
Williams dunk just over two minutes later.
However, Cincinnati came roaring back as the club used a 9-0 surge,
highlighted by Nick Williams’ three, to pull within 19-16 with 9:18 left in
the stanza. The remainder of the half was tight and Wake Forest held a slim
39-38 lead at the intermission.
Eric Williams netted 16 points and Paul added 14 for the Demon Deacons, who
shot a blistering 54 percent from the field in the first half (14-of-26).
Hicks had 16 points to pace the Bearcats, who were only 12-of-31 from the
floor in the opening 20 minutes (39 percent).