This Week @ Wake -- 01/04/10

Happy New Year. The new year offers new opportunities and a fresh start for all the Wake Forest teams, as well as a chance to look back on the year that was. Although the football teams and basketball teams did not quite live up to their expectations in 2009, there was still a lot to be thankful for...

Wake saw a number of athletes move onto professional leagues, including first round draft picks Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Aaron Curry. We also had another College Cup appearance, a great year from the field hockey team and a memorable women's soccer season. Through it all, there is no doubt that it is a great time to be a Demon Deacon.

Men's Basketball
The Deacs had arguably their best week of the year last week, with two huge home wins to close out their non-conference schedule. On Thursday, Wake was able to take home a victory in OT against A-10 foe Richmond. The Spiders, ranked in the top 50 in both KenPom and RPI, got an incredible game from Kevin Anderson, who had 31 points.

Both Richmond and Wake had inspired defensive efforts, but the Demon Deacons were able to pull away late in the overtime period and finish with a 74-68 victory. Wake Forest was led by Chas McFarland in his best game of the year, with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Right behind him was Al-Farouq Aminu , recording 16 points and 8 rebounds, and Ishmael Smith tacked on 13 points and 7 assists. The biggest bucket of the game came from freshman Ari Stewart, who drained a three late in overtime to ultimately seal the victory.

Coming off that big win, Wake Forest moved onto the inaugural meeting of the Skip Prosser Invitational. The event, honoring Skip Prosser, who coached both Xavier and Wake Forest, was certainly an emotional one for both teams. The ties run deep for both the Musketeers and the Demon Deacons, and the play on the court only seemed to further fact that this series has the potential to be a special one.

In a see-saw game back and forth, Wake relied on the strong play of Al-Farouq Aminu in the second half. Aminu overcame early foul trouble to score 26 points and 18 rebounds. The star of the show was Ishmael Smith, who had a career-high 28 points and carried the team on his back when they needed it most. Smith drained three shots from deep and scored on a variety of moves, as well as adding some highlight assists, many to Aminu.

The game moved into overtime, and then into a second overtime, with the Deacs grabbing the lead in the second bonus period. Wake went up four, Xavier came right back, but C.J. Harris put in a layup to go back up four. Xavier scored again with three seconds left, but the freshman came through one more time, hitting both of his free throws and giving the Demon Deacons the win, 96-92.

Wake has some time off to take a breather and they will start conference play against Miami on Sunday.

Women's Basketball
The Lady Deacs took to the road last week as they participated in the Surf N Slam Tournament in San Diego. In their first meeting of the tourney, Wake was unable to corral San Diego State and lost a nail biter by a final of 63-62. San Diego grabbed a steal and drove down the court late in the game, and Wake fouled on a three-pointer. The Aztecs took the lead, hitting two of three and Wake was unable to convert a layup on the other end at the buzzer.

Wake's shooting woes continued and they went 1/16 from beyond the arc, while SDSU shot 51%. Wake stayed in the ballgame by forcing 22 turnovers and recording 15 steals.

The Deacs bounced back in the consolation game and used smothering defense to defeat Valparaiso on Wednesday, winning 52-34. Sandra Garcia added another double-double to her total as the Demon Deacons improved their record to 9-4.

The game was an ugly one, with Valpo shooting 23.8% on the day and both teams shooting under 20% in the second half. The Demon Deacons were able to use the advantage of hitting nine threes in addition to their good defense to come away with the victory.

Giving away free tickets with canned food donations on Monday, Wake will play Richmond at 7 p.m. They then start their conference slate against Va. Tech on Thursday.

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