Deacs fall to Clemson

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest hung around through the half, but an early second half run and some hot-shooting ultimately doomed the Demon Deacons in a 78-58 loss to Clemson on Saturday, February 11 at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Wake Forest placed three scorers in double figures, led by junior guard C.J. Harris' 18-point effort. Harris has now scored in double figures for 24 consecutive games. Sophomore forward Travis McKie added 13 points and six rebounds, while senior Nikita Mescheriakov also chipped in with 12 points.
With the loss, Wake Forest fell to 11-14 overall and 2-9 in ACC play. Clemson improved to 12-12 and 4-6 in the conference.
The Demon Deacons hung tough in the opening half and trailed by just six at halftime, but ultimately could not mount a comeback against Clemson's high percentage shooting (58 percent). The Tigers were led by senior guard Tanner Smith, who finished with 20 points on a near-perfect day from the field (8-of-9).
Wake was particularly efficient at the foul line, finishing the game 24-of-29 - including Harris' perfect mark on seven attempts.
Wake Forest controlled the opening tip, but missed on its first four attempts from the field as Clemson built a 7-0 lead early.
It took a trip to the line at 16:33 to get Wake Forest going offensively. After Harris swished a pair of freebies for Wake's first points, a transition dunk by McKie made it a 7-4 game less than one minute later.
Mescheriakov narrowed the gap to two, 9-7, with 14:19 to go on a triple from the right wing before Chase Fischer evened things at nine apiece with a pull-up jumper from the top of the key.
Harris gave the Deacons their first lead, 11-9, with a steal and jumper nearly eight minutes into the game, but Devin Booker tied it up again immediately with a dunk on the other end. The forward was whistled for a technical foul, however, and Harris hit two more free throws put Wake back on top, 13-11.
Carson Desrosiers then made an immediate impact off the bench, finding Mescheriakov for an uncontested lay-in with a nifty pass at 10:39 mark. On the Deacons' next possession, he hit a streaking McKie for a two-handed slam. The sophomore also keyed a Clemson shot clock violation with a block on the defensive end.
With the score still knotted at 17-17, Wake Forest went on a 7-0 run - hitting five free throws and getting another lay-in by Harris - to grab its largest lead of the half.
Clemson bounced back, however, with a 12-4 spurt to reclaim the lead, 29-28, on a triple by Smith. The Deacs pulled even at the 2:49 mark on a put back after an offensive rebound, but the Tigers took the half's remaining eight points to head into the break with a 42-36 advantage.
The Deacs nailed all 15 of their free throw attempts in the first half to hang close to Clemson, despite the Tigers 64.3 shooting percentage in the opening half and Smith's crisp shooting (15 points on 6-of-6 from the field).
The Tigers roared out of the half to a 8-1 run over the first 1:26 before Harris supplied the Deacs' first bucket on a fake and jumper from the left corner. Clemson continued to pour it on, however, stretching its lead to a game-high 23 with 7:53 remaining.
Next up for the Deacs will be another home game versus Georgia Tech on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets are 9-14 overall and 2-7 in the ACC and are idle until their trip to the Joel.