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first_img Published on January 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm Contact: | @jtbloss WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Frank Howard didn’t want to watch. With his back on the ground and his eyes facing the ceiling, he refused the hand Tyus Battle extended to lift him to his feet.Instead, Howard clutched his head with disgust, because in the game’s final minute and his team down by four, Syracuse’s junior point guard committed the costliest of his six turnovers. Freshman forward Oshae Brissett was forced to foul to halt a free bucket, and although Howard sunk another desperation three seconds later, Wake Forest (8-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) hit its free throws down the stretch of a 73-67 Demon Deacon win over SU (12-3, 1-1 ACC) in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Wednesday night.Wake Forest’s first-ever win over Syracuse — which came in spite of the fact that WFU’s leading scorer Keyshawn Woods played just three minutes after a first-half injury — was built on the glass. SU was out-rebounded for the first time all season, 38-29, and posted its lowest rebound total of the year. Howard sunk five three-pointers and scored 23 points — one of four Orange players to reach double figures — but that didn’t matter because SU couldn’t actually secure that basketball to add the final necessary touches to those point totals.“In the second half, we did everything we needed to on offense,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “But we did not do a good job on the boards which has been something that has really made us this year.”Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning credited his players for employing the fundamentals and boxing out. SU redshirt freshman forward Matthew Moyer said WFU’s starting center, the 7-foot-1, 280-pound Doral Moore, was quicker than he appeared on film. Freshman forward Oshae Brissett noted the five-man effort the Demon Deacons employed when a ball went up for grabs.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They went after it more,” Moyer said.Last season, SU’s bubble burst on Selection Sunday because, although the Orange had impressive wins against ranked teams at home, it lacked any noteworthy accomplishments away from the Carrier Dome. It totaled two road wins all year, coming against bottom-third ACC teams in Clemson and NC State.So Wednesday night’s trip to Wake Forest gave SU a chance to reverse the theme that plagued its last campaign. The Demon Deacons entered the matchup having lost thrice already on its home court, twice to teams outside Kenpom’s top 90 teams. SU came in riding a two-game win streak and a comfortable win in its league-opener against Virginia Tech.And then SU’s glass-game shattered. It brought a three-point lead to intermission thanks to a late 10-0 Orange run and an 11-point half from Howard, who hit his third three of the half on SU’s final possession. After the fade-away fell through the hoop, Howard back-pedaled away from Wake Forest bench with a stare and a smile. He shot the same expression to some heckling fans after a make minutes earlier.SU bested WFU by just one on the glass at halftime. The Demon Deacons made one free throw in the first half, despite entering Wednesday with more than a fifth of their offense coming from the line. Separation was inaccessible to either team. And it stayed that way, with both teams combined for five points by the time the under-16 media timeout came around.“We have to make those plays at the beginning of the game so it’s not a close game at the end,” Battle said.WFU flirted with a soft, full-court press. SU’s junior center Paschal Chukwu sunk two free throws and influenced ample shots in the paint. But Moore’s presence on the boards and Battle’s fourth foul kept Wake Forest close. A Bryant Crawford layup tied the game with 12-and-a-half minutes to go. The Deac’s starting guard never really went away after that, finishing with a team-high 19 points, 14 of which he produced in the second half.SU — relying on a consistent stream of trips to the line, where it went 18-for-23 — continued to build and lose a four-point lead. Battle returned with four fouls just after the ten-minute mark. Crawford and Mitchell Wilbekin sunk back-to-back threes to put the Demon Deacons in front by two. Timeout, nine minutes left.A Howard three put the Orange back in front. Then Howard found Chukwu under the basket. The Orange’s drop-prone center did not struggle with the same type of pass he bobbled earlier, holding on for a two-handed dunk. Howard tacked on two more on the next possession, only to have Crawford hit two more three-pointers to bring his Demon Deacons within one of SU, 53-52. Where SU was good, Crawford was better.“Down the stretch, obviously, we’ve had big plays from Tyus, we’ve had big plays from Frank earlier in the year, but it’s really our defense,” Moyer said. “… If our defense is good, we’re good. If our defense is not good, any team can beat us on any given night.”Brissett missed two free throws. Chaundee Brown and Battle traded three-pointers. WFU added two more buckets from the paint, the second off a goaltending call on Chukwu. At the under-four timeout, the Demon Deacons led by three points and the coliseum, fueled by the fact that two Oshae Brissett missed free throws earned everyone in attendance a free Chick-fil-a sandwich, reached its loudest.SU’s star freshman found redemption in a straight-away three that tied the game at 59. Both teams traded two points. The ping-pong of lead changes grew tiresome, but someone had to win. Terrance Thompson converted a fast-break layup after a long rebound, and SU turned it over after Battle drove out of bounds. The lead was Wake Forest’s for good.Brandon Childress hit a floater, and with a minute to go SU found itself down four and searching for anything on offense. It never found anything but lost rebounds and fouls out of desperation.Even when WFU strayed from its identity and missed the front end of a one-and-one, so did Battle. Then came Howard’s final turnover. A Brissett and-one and Howard three-pointer offered hope, but too late. With 16 seconds left, and a Frank Howard three bringing SU within two — again — Olivier Sarr sunk the final freebies to ice it, and Syracuse was left still searching for its first ACC road win.“We weren’t ready to play at all. I wasn’t ready to play at all,” Battle said. “I know personally, I have to be better. As a team, we have to be better.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more