Nov. 27, 2008
Anaheim, Calif. - Josh Akognon scored 24 points and Gerard Anderson had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds Thursday afternoon but it wasn't enough to overcome a physically dominant Wake Forest team which held on for a 75-69 victory in the opening round of the 76 Classic men's basketball tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Fullerton fell to 2-3 and will play Saint Mary's at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Friday in the consolation bracket in a game to be televised on ESPNU. The Gaels were upset by UTEP, 75-62.
No. 19-ranked Wake Forest got 24 points from Jeff Teague and 14 each from Al-Farouq Aminu and Chas McFarland to improve to 4-0. The Deamon Deacons will play UTEP in the championship bracket Friday.
Wake Forest pulled away late in the first half for a 37-29 lead at intermission and seemed in control with a 62-48 lead with 8:27 to play. But the Titans started hitting the treys they missed in the first half (1-for-12) and got within 4 points with 1:30 to play.
"This was a hard game for us," said CSF Head Coach Bob Burton. "But I think Saint Mary's will be harder for us because they are a mature team. Wake Forest is young and has a lot of new guys.
"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. A Big West team can't commit 22 turnovers and beat an ACC team. Credit Wake Forest's defense and a great plan. They concentrated on Josh and maybe this tournament will show us how we need the other kids to step up.
"Marcio Lassiter gave us a lift in the second half. I was happy with our defense... but we had big problems at the offensive end."
Wake Forest started a 7-footer in McFarland and two 6-9 wing men in James Johnson and Aminu while Fullerton went with a frontline of 6-8, 6-6 and 6-4.
"It's my first time playing against a team that big.... from the point guard through the whole lineup," said Anderson, who had 10 rebounds in the first half. "It was tough trying to finish over them."
Akognon made 9 of 25 shots including 4 of 14 treys.
"I've got to start looking for the other guys more," he said. "We came back tough but shouldn't been in that big a hole. They played great defense and were well-coached."
The game was the first meeting ever with an Atlantic Coast Conference team for the Titans,
With Anderson throwing down his second dunk of the game, the Titans held an 11-10 lead at the second media timeout (11:55) and Ray Miller's tip-in extended it to 13-10. But Harvey Hale and L. D. Williams scored for the Deamon Deacons to regain the advantage at 14-13.
Fullerton didn't go away. Akognon hit a follow shot and Anderson did likewise for a 19-17 lead that lasted 5 seconds before Teague tied it at 19-19 for Wake Forest. Streeter hit a pair of free throws for a 21-19 lead coming out of the 7:02 timeout but Wake Forest responded with a 6-0 run including two buckets by Johnson to take the lead for good. The halftime score was 37-29 and there were three fouls on Anderson and two each on Papa Guisse and Miller.
Despite 13 turnovers and 29 percent shooting including only 1 of 12 treys, the Titans were within striking distance. Wake Forest made only 5 of 12 free throws and surprisingly was outrebounded, 28-22, but did block six shots and alter many more.
Wake Forest gradually pulled away, hitting a pair of treys in an 11-4 run to open the second half. But Marcio Lassiter and Akognon hit the Titans' second and third treys of the game to draw within 48-39. Lassiter hit another 3-pointer to cut it to 52-44 with 12 minutes to go.
Wake Forest stretched the margin to 14 points but a Jacques Streeter trey made it 64-56 and forced Wake to use a timeout with 5:11 remaining. Streeter hit another trey and it was a 5-point game at 64-59 at the media timeout at 3:39. Lassiter's driving layup made it 64-61 but Chas McFarland made two free throws. Akognon and Al-Farouq Aminu trade deuces and it was 68-63. Fullerton got within 4 points at 68-64 but the Deamon Deacons hit 5 of 8 free throws in the closing minute.