Wake Forest keeps Pittsburgh winless in ACC 63-57
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Demon Deacons didn’t want to be Pitt’s first ACC victim.
Facing the prospect of a winless ACC season, Pittsburgh battled Wake Forest to a close game throughout on Wednesday night. But the Demon Deacons were just a couple shots better, holding off a late Pitt charge to escape with a 63-57 victory.
“We’re fortunate to come away with a win,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “We’re happy to have it. Hopefully, this can give us some momentum as we move forward.”
The Demon Deacons came up clutch in the end by making six straight free throws to close the game, while Pitt guard Jared Wilson-Frame’s dunk rattled out with under 10 seconds to close the upset bid.
When the Demon Deacons needed a basket in the second half, they turned to Bryant Crawford, who finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. The Wake Forest players believed that Crawford, who is the team’s leader in assists, would heat up eventually.
“Always, and that goes for everybody,” WF center Doral Moore said. “Make the next one. If you make the next one, you’ll be fine.”
Wake Forest (11-17, 4-12 Atlantic Coast Conference) nearly doubled up Pitt in the paint with a 30-16 scoring advantage. Moore led the way with nine rebounds and 13 points.
Pitt (8-21, 0-16) has relied on outside shooting for much of the season and that caused problems in the second half, going 8 of 28 (29 percent) from the floor. Wilson-Frame and Marcus Carr each scored 11 points for the Panthers.
Wake Forest: Crawford was coming off a career-high 29 points against North Carolina State, and had averaged 21.6 points per game over his last five contests. He continued his dominance despite being held to four points in the first half.
Pitt: The Panthers’ search for a conference win continues, despite yet another close finish. Pitt lost to Florida State on Sunday after trailing by three with under four minutes to play and has three single-digit losses in conference play.
Head coach Kevin Stallings addressed the prospects of his departure after two seasons at the helm.
“I’m here to help these guys be successful and I’m not doing a good enough job of that right now,” Stallings said. “We need to get better. But I’m just not the right person to ask because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think.”
Wake Forest started the second half on an 8-0 run and changed the tone of the rest of the game from a close battle to the Panthers chasing.
“We start the half, and we have three, four, five just like you’re playing H.O.R.S.E. shots, and don’t make one,” Stallings said.
Wake Forest will wrap up its home schedule against Notre Dame on Saturday. The Demon Deacons have lost five straight games against the Fighting Irish.
Pitt hosts No. 1 Virginia on Saturday. The Panthers last hosted the top-ranked team in 2014, when they lost to Syracuse. Pitt is 1-1 all-time against the No. 1 team at the Petersen Events Center.