No. 11 Wake Forest beats Wright State 66-53
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP)—Harvey Hale had heard plenty about those 3-point shots that didn’t want to fall. His girlfriend constantly asked when he was going to start making them. His father even called before Sunday’s game against Wright State to remind the Wake Forest senior to put more arc on his shot.
Maybe now they’ll give him a little space.
Hale had a season-high 17 points and hit five 3s to help the 11th-ranked Demon Deacons remain unbeaten with a 66-53 victory over the Raiders.
L.D. Williams added 11 points for the Demon Deacons (9-0), who are off to their best start since winning the first 11 games of 2003-04. While Wake Forest shot 52 percent and was never in any real danger of being the victim of an upset, the Demon Deacons were sloppy with the ball (22 turnovers) coming out of a weeklong break for exams.
Hale’s shooting kept it from being an upset-inducing set of miscues against the pesky Raiders (2-7).
“I thought Harvey Hale stepped up and played a big-time game for us when we needed him to,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. “He deserves a lot of credit for that win. He stepped up and just shot the ball really well and guarded the ball well.”
Hale hit his first five shots—all from behind the arc—and had two steals in 18 minutes. He came into this game averaging 6.8 points and shooting 7-for-23 (30 percent) from 3-point range, but cracked double figures in scoring for the first time this season.
His 3-point shooting has long been probably his biggest value to the Demon Deacons, even though he’s been up and down with it throughout his career. He shot around 37 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore, but dropped to 29 percent last season. He said his father’s pregame phone call helped him focus even more during warmups.
“My dad told me, ‘Arc the ball up,’ something I haven’t really been doing,” Hale said. “I’ve been hitting the front end (of the rim) a lot. … I thought about that when I was shooting around before the game. When I got in the game, it just came effortless.”
Hale’s best stretch came when he hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to give Wake Forest a double-digit lead midway through the opening half. He hit his fifth 3 midway through the second half to cap an 11-0 run that pushed the margin to 21 points.
His only missed 3 came in the final minute of the game.
Wake Forest shot 7-for-13 from 3-point range, including Williams’ 3-pointer from the left corner just before the horn that gave it a 35-25 halftime lead.
“Harvey’s one of our best shooters,” Williams said. “(Jeff) Teague can shoot it. When guys are knocking down shots, it opens up the offense for us. We’ve got a bunch of guys who can really get to the (basket), and when guys hit 3s it really opens the floor for us.”
Hale’s hot shooting helped offset an off day from Teague, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading scorer at 20.6 points per game. Teague didn’t have a field goal in the first half and finished with 10 points and six rebounds with six turnovers.
Still, while not turning in their sharpest performance, the Demon Deacons maintained control of the game the entire way. A few minutes after Hale’s fifth 3, James Johnson scored off his own miss following a backcourt turnover to give Wake Forest its largest lead at 54-32 with 13:17 left.
Wright State hung around in the second half, but never seriously threatened to pull the upset.
John David Gardner scored 14 points for the Raiders, who thrived off the Demon Deacons’ miscues, scoring 22 points off turnovers. But they shot 40 percent for the game, including 7-for-23 from 3-point range, while Wake Forest had a 39-19 rebounding edge.
“You just can’t take away everything,” Wright State coach Brad Brownell said. “You’re asking a lot. Something’s going to give eventually. You just hope it’s not more than one thing. By and large, we did a good job defensively of defending the post.”