WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest will enter its two-week holiday break more relieved than merry.
Chaundee Brown scored 25 points Saturday afternoon including a key baseline jumper down the stretch as Wake Forest needed a 10-0 game-ending run to pull away late for a 76-64 victory over underdog North Carolina A&T.
Brown’s shot from the left side with 2:22 left answered a 3-pointer from A&T freshman Fred Cleveland and gave the Demon Deacons (7-5) a 68-64 lead. The Aggies (3-9) have never beaten an ACC opponent.
Wake Forest didn’t own a double-digit lead until the final seconds.
“We should have beaten this team by 20 points,” said Brown, a 6-foot-5 junior. “We didn’t come out with the juice we usually have. The last three or four minutes were key – we strapped it up and hit a few big shots.”
“It’s better than having a loss,” agreed Wake Forest coach Danny Manning. “We want to get better over the break.”
Cleveland, who scored 15 points off the bench, had tied the game at 61-61 on a jumper with 6:22 remaining.
The Aggies missed a pair of 3-pointers with a chance in the final four minutes. The Aggies took their last lead at 49-48 on Tyrone Lyons’ put back with 11:53 to play.
Brown was dominant inside for the Deacons. He made 6 of 8 from the foul line and grabbed 10 rebounds. Olivier Sarr, who returned after missing the Deacons’ upset victory the previous weekend over Xavier, added 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Ronald Jackson scored 16 points for the Aggies, who made 8 of 17 from 3-point distance.
The Aggies came out strong, scoring the game’s first five points and getting eight quick points from Jackson. They took their last lead of the first half at 25-24 on Cleveland’s 3-pointer with 7:48 left.
Brown scored 11 in the first half as the Deacons opened up a 41-34 lead at intermission.
N.C. A&T: The Aggies dropped their fourth straight and fell to 0-43 against ACC opponents. They showed they could be competitive with an ACC team and have to be disappointed to squander such a good chance to break their ACC drought.
Wake Forest: The Deacons can enter a long holiday break – they don’t play again for two weeks – on a positive note. Sarr, the Deacons’ key 7-foot reserve, was back in the lineup after sitting out in concussion protocol, and played well in the second half, finishing with 13 points (7-of-9 at the foul line) and 10 rebounds.
N.C. A&T: The Aggies shot only 8 of 18 from the foul line and committed 20 turnovers, several on errant passes that didn’t get over taller Wake Forest defenders.
Wake Forest: The Deacons made only 5 of 24 3-point shots, including an 0-7 night from guard Brandon Childress.
CHANCES THAT GOT AWAY:
N.C. A&T had two possession in the final four minutes with an opportunity to tie or take the lead and turn up the pressure on Wake Forest. But Cleveland missed a jumper and Devin Haygood missed a 3-point shot.
N.C. A&T: The Aggies play at Illinois on Dec. 29.
Wake Forest: The Deacons return to ACC play at Pitt on Jan. 4.