WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — For one night, Wake Forest completely forgot who who they’ve been all season.
Efficient offensive unit? Nope.
Adept 3-point shooters? Nope.
Defensively challenged? Nope.
Poor closers? Not at all.
The Deacs (16-12, 7-9) turned the season completely upside down as they crawled back from a 19-point first-half deficit to grab an all-important 63-59 win Wednesday night over Pittsburgh (15-13, 4-11).
Wake ended the 1st half on a 7-0 run to cut Pitt’s game-high lead from 19 to 12.
Then the Deacs did something better in the second half than they’ve done all season — play defense.
Good rotation, good communication and good help — the Deacs had a hand in the face of most Pitt shooters and held the Panthers to a woeful 16.7 percent shooting.
The Panthers were 4-for-24 from the field in the second half, and were just 1-for-11 from behind the arc. That’s after Pitt began the game drilling 5 of its first 7 long-range bombs.
The Deacs got stops on the first six Pitt possessions, but weren’t exactly crisp offensively themselves. They chipped away a little at a time, ultimately not taking the lead until there was just 1:36 left in the game.
To close the game and get the win, it took a bunch of individual plays to equate to a team win for the Deacs.
Austin Arians provided help-side defense in the post and came from behind for a blocked shot on Pitt leading scorer Michael Young. It was Arians’ third block of the season.
Being backed down low on the post, Bryant Crawford got help from Keyshawn Woods to force a steal - Crawford attacked with the Deacs tied in the waning seconds. His missed the fast break attempt, but Collins was the for the putback to put the Deacs up for good.
Then Brandon Childress drained a pair of free throws with four ticks left on the clock to seal the game.
The Deacs have lost a couple games where they gave away big leads at home — most notably against Clemson and Duke.
They flipped the proverbial script and did just the opposite Wednesday night, perhaps giving them the win they need to build on to make an NCAA Tournament bid a reality.
When told the Deacs led for just :47 seconds, John Collins had just one comment.
“Long enough for a W,” Collins said.