Wake Forest Takes Down Georgia Southern, 81-72
Nov. 16, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest was held in check early, but 20-point games from both sophomore Travis McKie and junior C.J. Harris provided enough firepower to take down Georgia Southern, 81-72, at Lawrence Joel Coliseum on Wednesday evening.
With the win, the Deacons improve to 2-0 on the season. Georgia Southern, which dropped its season opener to Valparaiso, falls to 0-2.
McKie and Harris combined for a stellar 13-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. McKie led all scorers by tying a career-high with 23 points, and Harris pitched in an even 20 to help the Deacons earn the win.
Freshman Chase Fischer and sophomore Tony Chennault joined McKie and Harris in double figures. Chennault had 14 points and hit six of his seven free throws, while Fischer notched 13 in only the second game of his collegiate career.
For the game, Wake shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56) from the floor and 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) from three-point range. The Deacs also knocked down 27 of their 34 free throws, good for a 79.4 percent mark.
After falling behind early, Wake Forest reeled off a 17-3 run to build a 17-6 lead with 12:55 remaining. Harris, with seven points, was one of five different Deacons to score during the run. He and McKie drained back-to-back three pointers before Georgia Southern's Ben Drayton hit a short jump shot to end the run.
The Eagles closed the gap to single digits (19-10) after a Willie Powers jumper at the 9:17 mark, but McKie, Wake's leading scorer in the 2010-11 season, quickly scored five points to maintain the comfortable lead. He ended the short run with an emphatic dunk and made the subsequent free throw after Jelani Hewitt was whistled for a foul on the play.
Georgia Southern twice closed to within nine before the end of the first half, and each time the Deacs managed to rebuild their double-digit advantage. With 2:21 remaining, Eric Ferguson dunked for the Eagles to make the game 30-21 before a Chennault free throw made it a 10-point lead. Another Ferguson dunk with 1:05 left made it 31-23, but Fischer successfully converted a three-point play to give Wake Forest a 34-23 lead heading into the locker room.
Both sides traded jabs early in the second half. Hewitt recorded four points in the first two minutes for the Eagles, while Chennault and senior Nikita Mescheriakov each added a pair for the Deacons. Fischer nailed a three-pointer at the 14:05 mark to give the Deacs their largest lead of the night up to that point, 46-33.
Wake looked to have the game well in hand, but two consecutive three-pointers from the right side of the arc by Hewitt brought Georgia Southern to within five, 50-45, the closest that the game had been since the Deacs led 8-3 just six minutes into the contest.
The Eagles would get no closer than that, however. The Deacons went on a 6-0 run, fueled entirely by McKie, and Georgia Southern could not close the gap to any less than seven the rest of the way.
Wake was out-rebounded by the Eagles 35-30, but owned both the fastbreak (16-13) and points in the paint (36-28) categories.
Hewitt led Georgia Southern in scoring with 18 points, buoyed by 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Ferguson added 18 of his own, Powers had 13 and Drayton was the final Eagle in double figures with 12.
As a team, the Eagles shot 49.1 percent (28-of-57) from the field and drained seven of their 19 three-pointers for a 36.8 percentage. They also went 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) from the charity stripe.
Wake Forest will return to action on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7:00 p.m. The Deacs will host NC Central at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum, and the game will be televised on ESPN3 as well as broadcast by the Wake Forest Sports Network from IMG College.