Wake Forest wouldn’t quit but Notre Dame proved too strong in the end, prevailing 69-58 Wednesday night in Winston-Salem.
The Irish, (19-8; 10-5) opened a 10-point late-first half lead and never trailed thereafter though the host Demon Deacons tied the score at 28 to begin the second stanza and twice trimmed their guest’s 10-point second half lead to four to threaten late.
Senior center Zach Auguste led all scorers with 18 points plus a game-high 12 rebounds. Auguste connected on each of his eight free throw attempts and in the contest became the fourth player in Notre Dame history to surpass 700 rebounds while also shooting at least 56 percent from the field during his Irish career.
In doing, Auguste joined recent graduate Jack Cooley plus 1980s big man Keith Robinson and program legend Adrian Dantley in the accomplishment.
Notre Dame committed an uncharacteristic 12 turnovers and was out-rebounded 42 to 38, but those numbers were offset by Wake Forest’s abysmal 4-for-24 shooting effort from long range.
Scoreless in the first half, junior guard Demetrius Jackson erupted in the second, finishing with 15 points, 5 assists, and 6 boards. Jackson’s fellow captain and backcourt running mate Steve Vasturia scored 16, hitting 6 of 11 shots.
Both Vasturia and Jackson played all 40 minutes and only seven Irishmen appeared in the contest. Bonzie Colson added nine rebounds while freshman Matt Ryan provided a pair of first half three pointers off the bench before sitting due to foul trouble.
Auguste and Jackson closed out the contest at the free throw line hitting a combined eight straight in the final two minutes, extending a four-point lead to nine, 67-58, ending any legitimate Demon Deacons threat.
Notre Dame hit 17 of 20 shots from the charity stripe to ensure its fourth road victory of the conference season. The Irish close the road portion of their 2016 slate with a trip to Tallahassee Saturday afternoon against Florida State (16-11; 6-9).
At the tail end of a three-game, eight-day road trip, head coach Mike Brey and the Irish chose to remain south post-game for the long weekend but would have likely been relegated to that end regardless due to a winter storm that struck South Bend Wednesday afternoon.
Wake Forest played without the services of stalwart big man Devin Thomas, suspended two games for a violation of athletic department policy. Freshman John Collins scored 16 points in his first career start to lead the Demon Deacons. Classmate Doral Moore chipped in 13 with three blocked shots starting his second straight in Thomas’ stead.
Reigning ACC Rookie of the week Bryant Crawford was held to eight points on 3-for-11 from the field including 0-6 from downtown.
The hosts doubled-up Notre Dame on the offensive glass, collecting 13 boards to Notre Dame’s six.
With the win, Notre Dame bounced back from defeat for a remarkable thirteenth consecutive time. Brey’s Irish haven’t suffered back-to-back losses since the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign.