Winston-Salem, N.C. - Wake Forest (7-4) started the second half with a 12-2 scoring run to atone for a three-point halftime deficit, and Ty Walker scored 10 of his 12 points and grabbed five of his nine rebounds following the intermission to push the Demon Deacons past Gardner-Webb 67-59 in his home debut.
"[I'm] super motivated," Walker said. "Even with this game today I'm not satisfied at all."
Jeff Bzdelik and Gardner-Webb (6-7) head coach Chris Holtmann said Walker was the difference in the game.
"I'm really proud of Ty Walker," Bzdelik said. "He had a tremendous impact on the game, timely tip-ins, rebounding, very energetic. He had a great approach mentally toward this game."
Chase Fischer's second straight three-pointer gave Wake its largest lead of the first half 22-15 at the 9:49 mark, but Gardner-Webb soon caught fire. Spurred by the hot hand of Tashan Newsome the Runnin' Bulldogs overwhelmed the Deacs with an 18-8 scoring run. Jason Dawson completed the onslaught with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put G-W up at the intermission.
Travis McKie had nine points, but not a single defensive rebound in the first half. He picked up his third foul with 48 seconds left before halftime.
Things changed for McKie in the second half, as he did not pick up another foul and finished with 15 points and seven rebounds (five defensive boards).
"'Travis, get some rebounds,' so I did," McKie said, quoting Bzdelik from their halftime conversation.
C.J. Harris scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half to lead four Deacs in double digits, while Newsome kept Gardner-Webb in the game with 24 points.
The most glaring stats were Wake Forest's defensive field goal percentage, as the Demon Deacons held the Bulldogs to 36.8-percent shooting overall and 26.1-percent from downtown.
"They did some things better, and we probably contributed to it as well," Holtmann said. "Playing on the road, you're going to have stretches where you don't particularly play well and the other team plays well. They got us taking some quick shots, some bad shots."
Wake also had its first edge in rebounding of the season at 35-34, which prompted a sarcastic Bzdelik to say, "Let's throw a parade."
A parade should be thrown for Walker after his big-time performance. McKie said Walker won the game for the Deacs, and Harris added that they need that type of play from the Wilmington senior all the time.
"We're confident in his abilities," Harris said. "We see it in practice. Just seeing it transfer into a game makes us that much better."