Walker leads Wake Forest by Marist 81-59
But the Demon Deacons made up for it behind their defense—led by a school-record 11 blocks by Ty Walker—and free throw shooting to beat the Red Foxes 81-59 in a consolation round game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Travis McKie scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds, J.T. Terrell added 16 points, Ari Stewart 14, Gary Clark 12 and C.J. Harris 11 for Wake Forest (3-3), which led by as many as 25 points late in the second half.
Walker’s 11 blocks—coming in just 28 minutes—broke the 14-year-old record set by Tim Duncan on Jan. 13, 1996, at home against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Maryland.
“I didn’t even know I had broke it until I came off the court that last time,” said Walker, whose career high had been seven blocks against Stetson 11 days earlier. “It’s pretty amazing knowing I had surpassed Tim Duncan. … I don’t know why it happened, though—maybe God was on my side.”
The 7-foot junior tied Duncan’s mark with 5:59 remaining in the second half when he knocked away Rob Johnson’s layup attempt, and broke it a minute later when he tipped away another Johnson layup.
“That’s an outstanding performance,” Demon Deacons head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “That’s just awesome. Very few people can do that, and it had an impact on the game. He’s in very elite company.”
Walker’s shot-blocking performance, along with 15 Marist turnovers (eight off steals), allowed Wake Forest to hold the Red Foxes (0-5) to 29.7 percent shooting in the first half (11 of 37) and 30 percent for the game (18 of 60).
“The blocks more than anything affected us psychologically,” Marist head coach Chuck Martin said. “In our league, there’s not too many Ty Walkers … and he just took over the game defensively.”
While the Demon Deacons had their own shooting problems (35.2 percent from the field), they also hit 34 of 44 from the free throw line, including 17 of 19 in the first half to take a 12-point lead at the break.
“We were able to get inside their zone and get some good looks … but we hurt ourselves by taking quick shots,” Bzdelik said. “But we’ve worked hard on spacing. We’ve got good enough shooters that it opens things up, and when that happens we work on driving to the basket.”
The shooting problems for both sides set up a seesaw battle that saw Marist and Wake Forest swap the lead six times and tie the score a half-dozen more times.
The Red Foxes—who held a 26-20 rebounding edge in the first half, and 47-41 for the game—last led with 7:40 remaining, going ahead 24-22 on a pair of R.J. Hall free throws. But the Demon Deacons grabbed the lead back for good 15 seconds later at 25-24 on Harris’ 3-pointer.
Harris’ jumper kicked off a closing surge for Wake Forest, with McKie scoring nine of his 12 first-half points during a 19-5 run that put the Demon Deacons ahead 41-29 at the half.
Wake Forest then held Marist without a field goal for more than seven minutes to open the second half, allowing the Demon Deacons to push their lead past the 20-point mark.
Wake Forest led by as many as 25 points twice late in the second half, the last at 81-56 on a pair of Clark free throws with 2:27 remaining.
Anell Alexis had 10 points for the Red Foxes.