WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Four days after cruising to a
lopsided win over Indiana, Wake Forest had to grind out a victory
against a pesky underdog.
Eric Williams, Taron Downey and Chris Paul each scored 17 points
Saturday to lead the Demon Deacons (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) to an 81-66 victory
over Richmond. Jamaal Levy scored 12 points for Wake Forest (5-0),
which shot 55 percent in the second half to pull away to its 20th
straight home win.
Richmond (4-3) used a zone defense to slow the pace of the game
early, resulting in a season-low scoring output for Wake Forest.
But the Demon Deacons hit 20 of 24 free throws and some big
3-pointers in a game that featured two technical fouls, two
ejections and a near-tussle in the first half.
"I think we probably needed a game like that," Wake Forest
coach Skip Prosser said. "We obviously didn't play as well as we
would've liked. ... And yet we still had five guys in double
figures (and) shot free throws well when we needed to."
Mike Skrocki scored 21 points to lead the Spiders, who shot 32
percent in the second half.
After leading by two points at halftime, the Demon Deacons got
some breathing room with an 8-2 run midway through the second half.
Leading 53-52, Paul and Justin Gray each scored four points, with
Paul getting a hanging layup on the baseline and stealing the ball
from Skrocki for another layup in the backcourt.
Two free throws by Gray made it 61-54 with 7:20 to go.
The Demon Deacons pushed the lead to 66-57 when Paul inbounded
the ball to Levy, who gave it right back to Paul for a layup.
"Coach all week had been talking about teams coming in our
house like it was a robbery, and we don't want to let a team come
in and take our pride and lose a game at home," said Paul, who had
eight assists and five steals for the second straight game.
Richmond got no closer than six points the rest of the way. The
Spiders closed the gap to one point three times in the second half,
but the Demon Deacons answered with scores to stay ahead.
Wake Forest finally found its range late, getting three straight
3s from Gray and Paul to take a 77-64 lead with 2:14 to go.
"We were open for shots and we know we can hit them," said
Downey, who went 3-for-8 from behind the arc. "It was just a
matter of concentrating and knocking them down."
After going 1-for-8 on 3s in the first half, the Demon Deacons
went 6-of-14 from behind the arc after halftime. Richmond went
3-for-13 on 3s in the second half, and coach Jerry Wainwright said
his team showed poor shot selection when the game was close after
"They did a good job of breaking it open by making shots," he
said. "And we didn't answer."
Gray finished with 10 points despite spraining his left ankle
with 6:42 left in the first half.
Richmond frustrated the Demon Deacons early with the zone. Wake
Forest, which came into the game shooting 43 percent from 3-point
range, missed its first seven tries from behind the arc and shot 41
percent in the half.
Richmond clung to a 24-22 lead until tempers flared late in the
half. After being whistled for a traveling violation with 4:34
left, Richmond's Daon Merritt hit Paul with an elbow, knocking the
freshman to the ground. Levy retaliated with a hip check, knocking
Wake Forest took a 32-28 lead on a jumper and 3-pointer from
Downey in the final minutes and led 34-32 at halftime.
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