Sunday, March 06, 2005

Back And Ready For Washington, D.C.

I'll start by apologizing profusely for the 2-week-long gap in posts. It's been a hectic, work-filled couple of weeks, although not entirely stressful, thanks to wins over Longwood, UVA, Georgia Tech, and now NC State.

Recaps of the Longwood, UVA, Georgia Tech, and NC State games can be seen through these links.

As the Deacs walked into the RBC Center for their pregame shootaround Sunday, their ACC fate was already decided thanks to UNC's come from behind 75-73 win over Duke. As a result, UNC solidified their regular season league championship, making Wake the automatic #2 seed and Duke #3 in the conference tournament. However, both the Deacs and the Wolfpack still had plenty to play for. For NC State, a win would almost surely secure an NCAA tournament berth. Wake could also help themselves, as a win would go a long way towards earning a #1 seed in the Dance, especially with #1 Illinois, #3 Kentucky, #6 Duke, #7 Kansas, #8 Oklahoma St. and #10 Washington all losing over the weekend.

Wake started out well, jumping to a 16-9 lead. But Ilian Evtimov kept the Pack in the game, shooting 4/5 from the field in the same period that the rest of his team went 4/13. Several missed free throws, however, kept NC State down by 8 at halftime. The game was chippy, with Chris Paul giving Julius Hodge a tap to the groin that was promptly followed by a Hodge elbow to Paul's midsection, earning Hodge a technical on his senior night (making him the second ACC player to have that distinction in 3 days, as Daniel Ewing of Duke picked up a T of his own on Thursday). The Deacs could not find the hoop in the second half, having scored only 15 points in the first 19 1/2 minutes of the period. Down 53-50, however, Justin Gray stepped back and buried a 3-pointer in front of the Wake bench to tie it. After an Engin Atsur airball, Wake got the ball back with 4.2 seconds left. On a perfectly executed inbounds play, Paul inbounded to Vytas Danelius, who gave it back to Paul. Paul drove the length of the court, and tossed in a runner despite being bumped by Atsur as the buzzer sounded.

WAKE FOREST LEADERS:
Points - Gray 15, Danelius 12
Rebounds - Williams 7, Gray 6
Assists - Paul 6, Gray 2

OPPOSING PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Ilian Evtimov - 19 pts., 6 rebs.