Wake Forest 81, No. 7 Miami 74
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)
Wake Forest played fast and kept attacking the same Miami team that had handled the Demon Deacons so easily once before. Now the Demon Deacons are celebrating one of the biggest wins in program history along with a rare trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
Secily Ray scored a season-high 21 points to help the Demon Deacons upset the No. 7 Hurricanes 81-74 in Friday's quarterfinals. Wake Forest is in the semis for the first time since 1988 and the third time ever.
Chelsea Douglas added 18 points for the seventh-seeded Demon Deacons (19-12), who have won two games in the same tournament for the first time in program history. They beat Virginia Tech in Thursday's first round and will face Maryland on Saturday as they pursue their second NCAA tournament bid, the last also coming in 1988.
''Being seniors, we're trying to make history,'' Ray said. ''And for our team, we're just trying to continue to win.''
The second-seeded Hurricanes (25-5) had beaten the Demon Deacons 64-39 on Jan. 26, holding Wake Forest to a season-low 25-percent shooting. But this time, Wake Forest shot 46 percent and blew a 15-point halftime lead only to push ahead in the final 2 minutes to seal the victory.
''We just saw the film on that earlier this morning, and I wrote on my scout sheet that I was walking around,'' Wake Forest senior Brooke Thomas said. ''That's exactly what I wrote: `I was walking around.' So, we talked to the team about being more active, and that's what we did. I think our energy level spoke for itself. Last time, we didn't show up.''
Wake Forest had beaten a team ranked this high only once before, topping seventh-ranked Maryland in February 1993. And this win was the second straight upset in the ACC quarterfinals, coming right after ninth-seeded North Carolina State beat fifth-ranked and top-seeded Duke.
Before his game, Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen sought out N.C. State coach Kellie Harper in the hallway outside the locker rooms to offer her a congratulatory hug after the Wolfpack's victory.
A few hours later, he was savoring a win just as surprising on a chaotic Friday in the Greensboro Coliseum.
''Basketball is a game of streaks, and right now, when we go out in that gym and our kids look up at that backboard, it looks like a stinking rain barrel sitting up there,'' Petersen said. ''That's being a basketball player. That's ball. Sometimes it looks like a spike mark. Right now, it looks like a rain barrel, and we just need to let it keep looking like a rain barrel and play hard.''
Sandra Garcia added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest, including the go-ahead putback with 1:50 left. Then Lakevia Boykin (16 points) scored on a driving shot over Stefanie Yderstrom to push the lead to 72-68 on the next possession.
The Demon Deacons did the rest of their work at the free throw line. As the Hurricanes continued to miss the shots they made earlier to spark their second-half comeback, Wake Forest went 7 for 8 at the line in the final 90 seconds to stay in control. Boykin scored a layup off a long inbounds to punctuate the victory, though the Wake Forest bench nearly ran onto the court to celebrate too soon on an out-of-bounds call with 0.2 seconds left.
Wake Forest's first-half play helped make that moment possible. The Demon Deacons ran off 13 straight points and outscored the Hurricanes 19-4 in the final eight minutes of the first half to take a 38-23 lead at the break.
''I think we came out really flat,'' Miami's Riquna Williams said. ''I felt like we came out and we didn't expect them to punch us in the face like that. And we didn't have any response for it - like, nothing.''
The Hurricanes weren't able to cut into that lead significantly until putting together a 12-2 run with about 7 1/2 minutes left and taking a 66-64 lead on Yderstrom's three-point play with 4:56 left.
It was Miami's first lead since 16-15 with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
''In another era, I might have patted our team on the back for that second-half effort, but not now. No way,'' Miami coach Katie Meier said. ''We're very disappointed, we're very discouraged and we deserve what happened to us tonight.''
Williams scored 22 points to lead Miami, while Yderstrom and Shenise Johnson each scored 18.