Wake Forest tops USC in Bahamas, 77-63
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — There’s balance, and then there’s what Wake Forest put on display Friday.
Everyone had a role.
And accordingly, the Demon Deacons rolled.
Coron Williams scored 15 points and Wake Forest moved into the fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 77-63 win over Southern California on Friday. A 9-0 run gave the Demon Deacons a 24-14 lead midway through the opening half, and Wake Forest maintained a double-digit margin for all but 14 seconds the rest of the way.
Tyler Cavanaugh scored 11 and Madison Jones and Devin Thomas each had 10 for Wake Forest (6-1), which will face Tennessee on Saturday to end its three-game run in the Bahamas.
Thomas added eight rebounds for Wake Forest, which got 35 points from reserves. The Demon Deacons shot 53 percent.
USC (4-3) was led by Byron Wesley’s 12 points. Roschon Prince and Pe’Shon Howard each added 10 for the Trojans, who face Xavier for seventh place in the tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said his team would learn plenty from its quarterfinal loss to No. 2 Kansas, and it certainly appeared to ring true a day later.
Maybe most importantly, the Demon Deacons seemed to also learn how to forget.
There was no apparent hangover from the loss to the Jayhawks, one that came with a sour feeling for the Demon Deacons, who had Kansas in trouble in the second half of that game before coming up short.
Playing Friday before a significantly smaller crowd, and with significantly lower stakes, Wake Forest was steady and effective throughout. The Demon Deacons had nine players log at least five minutes of court time in the first half. All nine scored, none more than eight points, all also had at least one rebound and six of them had at least one assist.
Translation: USC couldn’t lock in on any one person. That was a problem.
Codi Miller-McIntyre had scored at least 20 points in five of Wake Forest’s first six games of the season. He had only five on Friday, which would suggest that the Demon Deacons might have struggled.
Not even close.
USC missed 15 of its first 16 tries from 3-point range. By the time the Trojans connected on 3′s in consecutive possessions midway through the second half, it was already too little, too late — as Wake Forest’s lead was still 55-35 after those shots.
Just in case USC was entertaining some comeback thoughts, Williams snuffed those out, answering the second of those 3′s by USC with one of his own from the left corner, restoring a 23-point edge for the Demon Deacons.