Wake Forest sends Notre Dame packing; Miami earns date with N.C. State
Postseason basketball brings out the best in Wake Forest's Coron Williams.
He scored a season-high 25 points and the Demon Deacons beat Notre Dame 81-69 on Wednesday in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Williams — a transfer from Robert Morris who holds the Northeast Conference tournament record with eight 3s in a game — hit four in this one for 12th-seeded Wake Forest (17-15).
"Desperation. One and done," Williams said. "If you don't come out here and play your hardest, you could be done for the year. ... There's a focus about it for me."
The Demon Deacons shot a season-best 61 percent, built a 33-23 rebounding advantage and earned their first ACC tournament win since 2007 — when the late Skip Prosser was their coach.
"We just wanted to break the streak, not only for this team but for Wake Forest," said Travis McKie, the team's only fourth-year senior on scholarship. "We haven't done it in a long time, and we want to continue rolling."
Devin Thomas added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest, which will play fifth-seeded Pittsburgh (23-8) on Thursday in the second round.
Pat Connaughton scored 19 points for the 13th-seeded Fighting Irish (15-17), whose first trip to the ACC tournament was a short one.
The league newcomers shot 40 percent and had won at least one game in their previous five Big East tournaments.
"In a tournament setting, and for us, given that this is our first experience down here in this thing, we need to get off to a better start to believe that we can win a game here," coach Mike Brey said.
Zach Auguste added 14 points, Eric Atkins had 13 and Garrick Sherman finished with 12 for the Irish, who briefly made things tense in the final moments when Atkins spun in a 3-pointer to make it 68-62 with 2:10 left.
Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre then missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:55 to play, but teammate Arnaud William Adala Moto grabbed the offensive rebound — one of two missed free throws he rebounded in the final 2 minutes — and Williams then hit two free throws with 1:52 to go.
Senior Travis McKie and Adala Moto each hit two foul shots, the last of which pushed the lead back to double figures at 74-64 with 1:22 remaining.
Notre Dame didn't get closer than eight the rest of the way.
"The answer has been really what's plagued us most of the year — we just haven't been able to get stops," Brey said. "They made timely baskets."
Thomas had given Wake Forest its largest lead at 62-48, hitting a fast-break layup through contact from Steve Vasturia — and flexing both biceps to the crowd in celebration — before converting the free throw that followed with 6:37 left.
Miami beats Virginia Tech 57-53 in ACC tourney
Erik Swoope and Miami didn't figure out how to beat the Atlantic Coast Conference's worst team until the league tournament.
Swoope scored 14 points and hit the go-ahead basket with 2:42 left to help the Hurricanes beat Virginia Tech 57-53 in Wednesday's first round, their first win in three tries against a team unable to beat anyone else in league play.
Rion Brown scored 15 points to lead the 10th-seeded Hurricanes (17-15), who hit four free throws in the final 8 seconds to hang on against the last-place Hokies (9-22). Miami shot just 39 percent but the reigning tournament champion did just enough to advance, hitting 16 of 19 free throws.
It wasn't pretty basketball and it was hardly a performance that builds extra confidence going into Thursday's second round against seventh-seeded North Carolina State and league player of the year T.J. Warren. That didn't matter for coach Jim Larranaga, who has been making do with less after last year's championship run.
"I told our guys: it's a great game, it's a great environment," Larranaga said. "You've got to enjoy this moment."
Swoope came up with several key plays late, starting with his go-ahead basket that was the last for either team. Then, after an intentional missed free throw with Virginia Tech down two, Jarell Eddie beat Swoope to an offensive rebound only to have Swoope block the shot from behind as Eddie tried to go up against Tonye Jekiri in the paint.
"After the ball came off the rim, it bounced to me," Eddie said. "I was kind of behind the basket, so I just tried to gather myself and draw some contact going back up. It was a bang-bang play, so it was tough for the referees, and it was a no-call. They got the ball back, and that was game."
Swoope got the rebound and hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to seal it.
"At the very end of the game, I was actually frustrated with myself because we knew they were going to miss the shot and it tipped right out of my hands," Swoope said. "So when Jarell Eddie got it, I just wanted to do everything I could to help my team win that game."
A year ago, Miami followed its first ACC regular-season title with a three-game run to the tournament title and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But star Shane Larkin and just about the rest of that team departed after the year, leaving behind just four returning scholarship players.
Georgia Tech tops Boston College 73-70 in OT
Trae Golden isn't as quick as he used to be. When it counted most, he dug down to find enough quickness to create — and make — Georgia Tech's most important shot of its postseason opener.
Golden's three-point play with 35.3 seconds left in overtime helped the Yellow Jackets beat Boston College 73-70 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Robert Carter Jr. had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Marcus Georges-Hunt added 18 points and Golden — who has been fighting a nagging groin injury — finished with 14 points for the 11th-seeded Yellow Jackets (16-16).
"That shot that (Golden) made to win us the game ... two weeks ago, he couldn't make that play," coach Brian Gregory said. "He's not as explosive as he was earlier in the year, but at least every once in a while he was able to turn up the gear, and he was able to do that on that play."
Tech blew a 13-point lead with just over 8 minutes left and went roughly 10 minutes between field goals in regulation and OT before regrouping to claim its first ACC tournament win since its run to the 2010 title game.
Georgia Tech will play sixth-seeded Clemson (19-11) in the second round Thursday night.
Patrick Heckmann scored 21 points and Olivier Hanlan added 16 for the 14th-seeded Eagles (8-24), who got back in the game by reeling off 12 straight points late in regulation but ended the season by losing five of six.
"We got our chances to make shots in overtime," Hanlan said, "but (they weren't) going down."
Golden ended Tech's lengthy shooting drought in the final minute of overtime, driving down the lane and banking in a jumper through contact from Heckmann to put the Yellow Jackets ahead to stay. His free throw gave Tech a 69-67 lead.
"It's something you're feeling when you look up ... and they're up a point and you need a basket," Golden said. "You do feel a great sense of urgency knowing it could be your last college game."
Boston College then got the ball inside to Ryan Anderson, who missed a contested hook shot that would've tied it.
Kammeon Holsey hit four free throws in the final 14.7 seconds to make it 73-67 before Joe Rahon hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer for BC.
Anderson finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles, who wrapped up their third straight losing season by being denied their third ACC tournament victory since 2009.
"We did an incredible job of executing down the stretch, and for whatever reason, Georgia Tech had the answer at the end," BC coach Steve Donahue said. "But it's not like, 'You guys just totally folded at the end.' It's not that. It's a combination of things that I don't think you can just put one swipe of the brush and say, 'That's why.'"
The Eagles had a prime chance to win it in regulation when Hanlan — Boston College's leading scorer — went to the line for two free throws with 5.2 seconds left and the Eagles down by one.
His first attempt bounced off the back iron, and he made the second to tie it at 62.
Golden took the inbounds pass for Georgia Tech and raced down the right sideline but couldn't get a shot off because Garland Owens stripped him at the buzzer.