Friday, March 18, 2005

Wake Beats Mocs, Moves on to NCAA Second Round

Was it the rim, the rust, Chattanooga's defense, or just a poor performance by the Deacs? Wake Forest fans struggled to find an explanation for a dismal first half that left Wake down 27-24 at halftime. Four theories emerged: (1) one of the rims at the CSU Convention Center appeared (and sounded) to be loose, and spit out any shot that the Deacs sent its way in the first half; (2) Wake hadn't played since Friday, the longest off stretch since early January, so they needed the first half to work out the rust; (3) maybe Chattanooga's not that bad; and (4) Wake continues to struggle on offense.

Regardless of one's chosen theory, Wake played abysmally in the half, shooting 28 percent from the field to find themselves down by 3 at the break, just like the other high seeds playing in the 7:00 time slot (#2 Wake, #3 Arizona, #3 Gonzaga, and #8 Texas were all down at the half at around 8:15 PM). In the second half, however, shooting on the "good rim", Wake connected on well over 50% of its shots from the field. After a 3-point play by Mindaugas Katelynas of the Mocs put them up 38-35, Wake turned on its long range shooting, as three-pointers by Chris Paul, Trent Strickland, and Taron Downey sparked a 35-16 run to end the game.

Wake will face 7th-seeded West Virginia, a winner over Creighton, at 8 PM on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.

WAKE FOREST LEADERS:
Points - Paul 20, Gray 14
Rebounds - Levy 6, Paul 6
Assists - Paul 5, Downey 4

OPPOSING PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Alphonso Pugh - 13 pts., 6 rebs.