Up 27-23 at the half, the Demon Deacons dominated the boards in the second half pulling down 24 boards to just 12 for the ‘Noles. The final margin 41 to 30 rebounds led to either second chance points or to fouls that put Wake Forest on the line numerous times.
It was the disparity at the free throw line that coach Leonard Hamilton felt was the key difference in the game. Wake Forest managed to get to the line twenty-seven times converting twenty-one of the attempts. Meanwhile Florida State could not find a way to get to the free throw line. The ‘Noles took just seven attempts making four. All seven free throws came in the second half.
Tim Pickett led all scores with 27 points with 22 of those scored in the second half. The only other Seminole with double figures was Michael Joiner's 11 as once again Pickett had to carry the team's scoring load. Only four other ‘Noles scored points ranging between 2 (Trevor Harvey) and 9 (Todd Galloway) points.
Defensively the Seminoles did a pretty fair job forcing the Deacs into 19 turnovers that included 9 steals. However, several steals that led to fast breaks were not finished off. A notable play occurred in the first half when Pickett picked off a pass outside the arc going the rest of the way but the attempted slam clanged off the side of the rim. Such has been the problem with the Seminoles' offense. Scoring chances end up empty.
The highlight of the first 4:26 was four turnovers and 0-3 shooting for the Seminoles. Fortunately, Wake Forest was no better going 0-4 and having their own turnover difficulties. Both teams looked sloppy and had much trouble in the first twenty minutes putting the ball in the basket. Joiner finally scored the first points of the game on a nice move along the baseline.
Danelius and Howard did most of the damage early on. Following two point blank misses by Anthony Richardson; Downey raced down the court and launched an alley-oop pass to Howard. The slam-dunk finish made the score 18-9 in favor of Wake at the 5:48 mark of the first half.
A wide open three-pointer by Pickett from the left wing sparked an 11-1 FSU run. Joiner was a key contributor. He positioned himself well under the rim for a layup. Later he one-handed a rebound tapping it to Harvey for another layup. With great ball movement, Joiner canned a three-pointer that tied the score with 3:09 left. Galloway finished the run when Joiner set a good screen giving Todd a clear lane to the rim. FSU now led 21-19.
During the run FSU was 4 of 7 from the floor holding Wake to 0-5 field goals while holding a 14-13 rebound edge to that point.
Following an Eric Williams free throw, Downey regained the lead for the Deacs with a three from the right wing. Williams added a basket and Howard two free throws that stretched the lead to 27-21. Galloway missed a three-point shot, but Richardson was right there to tip in the rebound and the Seminoles trailed by four at the half.
FSU was able to exploit the baseline all game long and Pickett proved that to start the second half with a drive along the baseline and the layup. Danelius however scored eight points on two three-pointers and two free throws. Pickett did his best to not let the Demon Deacs get too far ahead. His three-pointer preceding Jamaal Levy's three and his steal from Howard for the coast to coast layup made the score 38-34 Deacons.
Adam Waleskowski had a wide-open jumper from the left wing. Pickett tied the game going coast to coast after stealing a bounce pass from Williams tying the score. FSU had its last lead as Williams fouled Pickett on the play and the free throw made it 39-38 with 12:59 to play.
Wake Forest proceeded to go on a 13-4 run again propelled by Howard and Danelius. A head fake on Benson Callier by Danelius at the 8:01 mark gave Wake a 51-43 lead. Hamilton promptly called timeout despite a television timeout coming up on the next dead ball.
The strategy paid off Almost. Florida State played more aggressively towards the rim. Two layups and a three brought the ‘Noles to within two, 54-52, with 4:09 to play.
That's when Howard took over the game. Waleskowski picked up his forth foul sending him to the line. Following a forced three-point shot by Galloway, Howard canned one from the right wing. Pickett answered with a reverse layup. Downey nailed a bomb from above the key and Pickett answered again with one from the left wing. With two minutes remaining FSU trailed 62-57 following Pickett's shot.
FSU had to press foul with time running out. But, Wake Forest converted 7 of 8 free throws and beat the Seminole press for an easy layup by Howard. Florida State meanwhile could not buy a basket. Galloway's shot missed its mark. Joiner missed two short attempts and a three-pointer and Richardson's putback also did not go down.
The loss drops Florida State's record to 10-7 overall and 1-5 in the ACC. The Seminoles' task does not get any easier as they travel to Virginia a place where they have struggled in the past. Tip off is Wednesday at 7:00 PM.