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Jackets Fall To No. 21 Wake Forest, 87-74

Jan 26, 2002

Box Score

Associated Press Writer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser raised his hand and smashed it down on a cup at the edge of the scorer’s table. He returned a few seconds later with a sly smile on his face and a towel in hand, but his frustration was obvious.

Josh Howard had 20 points and seven steals, and Darius Songaila had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the 21st-ranked Demon Deacons held off Georgia Tech for an 87-74 victory on Saturday.

Wake Forest (14-6, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) led by as many as 12 points early in the second half, but couldn’t put away the Yellow Jackets until Craig Dawson hit consecutive 3-pointers with four minutes left.

“It was frustrating for us because we weren’t able to put them away, but a lot of teams have had struggles trying to put Georgia Tech away,” Prosser said. “I can’t say enough positive things about Coach (Paul) Hewitt and his kids. After they’ve lost six in a row, sometimes guys become conscientious objectors and head north.”

It was a much-needed victory for Wake Forest, which had lost to No. 10 Virginia, top-ranked Duke and No. 3 Maryland in a span of eight days.

For Georgia Tech (7-13, 0-7), it was another close game that got away at the end.

The Yellow Jackets, playing their fourth ranked opponent in five games, lost their sixth in a row. The Yellow Jackets have been close late in all but one conference game, but are off to their worst start since going 0-14 in 1980-81.

“It’s very frustrating because you feel like your team is giving you a good effort, and they are, but it’s always a little thing here or there,” Hewitt said. “When you’re in this situation, you need every little break.”

Georgia Tech made eight of its first 13 shots in the second half and cut the lead to 56-52 on two free throws by Isma’il Muhammad with 11:42 left. Wake Forest went on a 10-2 run to push the lead back to 66-54 with 8:13 left, but the Yellow Jackets chipped it back down to seven two minutes later.

After a turnover on a bad pass by Vytas Danelius, Prosser took out his frustration on the cup, spraying water on the floor and the first few seats of press row. But Dawson followed with consecutive 3-pointers from the corner to put the Demon Deacons up 73-62 with 4:11 left.

“It seemed like every time we hit a 3, he hit one and kept us from getting momentum,” Hewitt said.

Dawson finished 4-for-6 from 3-point range and had 14 points. Howard also had nine rebounds and five assists.

Tony Akins led Georgia Tech with 20 points, but was 4-for-11 from 3-point range after scoring just two points on 1-of-8 shooting in a 69-65 loss to Virginia on Tuesday.

He had five turnovers and was 1-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, and played just 11 minutes because of foul trouble.

Without Akins, Georgia Tech’s offense seemed disjointed.

The Yellow Jackets hit just 11 of 30 shots and had 11 turnovers as Wake Forest built a 38-28 lead. Muhammad became so frustrated that he lowered his shoulder and knocked Songaila to the floor late in the first half.

“I think they were really hurt getting into foul trouble in the first half,” Prosser said. “If Akins doesn’t get into foul trouble we probably don’t get the cushion that we had going into halftime. When they made their run in the second half, we still had enough of a cushion to withstand it.”

Clarence Moore had 14 points for Georgia Tech and Ed Nelson added 12.

Georgia Tech hit six of its first nine shots to take a 14-11 lead 6{ minutes in, but missed 10 of its next 11, including nine straight over a six-minute span.

Wake Forest has won five of six against Georgia Tech.


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