WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — With hushed voices and heads down Wake Forest players John Collins, Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford addressed the media after a 85-83 loss Saturday afternoon to Duke at Joel Coliseum.
There were some one-word answers, and others that were just simply impossible to distinguish from five-feet away.
This one is going to hurt for awhile.
The Deacs had a chance to grab a marquee win over an in-state ranked opponent in front of a sold-out crowd.
And they held a 10-point lead with under four minutes to play.
Security stopped by media row and warned us all the be ready for the potential court storm. The last time they did that? The infamous collapse last year against Virginia, where a 14-point lead with 8:31 left was snuffed out as the Cavs won on a banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer.
This collapse was eerily similar, and may sting even worse.
After Bryant Crawford hit a pair of free throws with 4:01 left, it suddenly became the Luke Kennard show the rest of the way. Duke outscored Wake 14-2 down the stretch, with Kennard contributing 11.
After going 1-4 from the field with just four points in the first half, Kennard was a perfect 10-for-10 in the second 20 minutes, finishing with 34.
Kennard, listed as 6-foot-6 scored many while being defended by Mitchell Wilbekin, who is listed as 6-foot-2.
When asked after the game if he considered making an adjustment in personnel defensively on Kennard, Manning said, “No. We went with our matchups that we went with. He made shots.”
And while Kennard carried Duke offensively, the Deacs failed to execute well enough to maintain their margin. They scored just two points in the final four minutes, a banked-in contested 15-footer by Keyshawn Woods.
Bryant Crawford got to the rim in the final fleeting seconds, and John Collins was knocked to the ground without a whistle with .3 of a second left resulting in the Duke improbably come from behind win.
No crowd rushing the court. No ranked opponent victory for Danny Manning, and still no signature wins on the Wake Forest resume.
That last part is going to hurt if the Deacs recover and grab a few wins in the next couple weeks. They’ve faltered late at home in losses to Clemson and Duke now, and were in the until late at Northwestern, at Syracuse and at Florida State.
Not only do they need to pile up some wins, but at some point to be seriously considered for NCAA Tournament play, they’re going to have to beat somebody. They had that chance tonight and couldn’t close.
That’s going to hurt for awhile.