Winston-Salem, N.C. – Matt Halvorsen led Western Carolina with 19 points but Wake Forest outscored the Catamounts 9-1 in the final minute of the second half to emerge with a 71-64 win on Tuesday at LJVM Coliseum.
Wake Forest improves to 4-2 overall while Western Carolina drops to 2-6.
Halvorsen’s 19 points are the second-highest in a game for him this season. It’s the 20th time in his career that he has finished in double figures. Carlos Dotson finished with his third double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Of Dotson’s 16 rebounds, 13 came on the defensive glass. Marc Gosselin finished with a season-high 10 points to finish in double figures for the 28th time in his career. Onno Steger tallied 10 points as he finished in double figures for the sixth time this season and 13th in his career.
Brandon Childress led the Demon Deacons with a game-high 20 points. Jaylen Hoard finished with 17 points followed by Chaundee Brown with 14 points. Olivier Sarr had a team-best seven rebounds.
Wake Forest opened the game on a 5-0 run before Steger got the Catamounts on the board with a layup at the 17:27 mark. The Demon Deacons answered with a 13-0 run to lead 18-2 with 14:19 left in the first half. Following a Hoard free throw that gave the Demon Deacons a 21-3 lead, Western Carolina went on a 14-2 run as the Catamounts trailed 23-17 with 7:41 remaining. Wake Forest pushed its lead back to double digits thanks to a Brown jumper but Gosselin’s deep 3-pointer at the 3:50 mark trimmed the Catamount deficit to 31-24. A Halvorsen bank shot from well outside the 3-point line as time expired sent the Catamounts into halftime down two, 33-31.
Hoard opened the second half scoring with two free throws before Steger sank a 3-pointer to bring WCU within one, 35-34. A Marcus Thomas 3-pointer gave Western Carolina its first lead of the game, 43-41, with 14:05 to play. The teams traded the lead on a Sarr layup for the Demon Deacons answered by a Halvorsen 3-pointer for a 46-45 Catamount advantage with just under 13 minutes left. A Brown fastbreak dunk opened a 5-2 run for the Demon Deacons as they held a 59-50 lead with 5:39 to play. Western Carolina answered with 3-pointers by Steger and Gibson on consecutive possessions for a 59-56 Wake Forest lead with just under five minutes left.
After the Demon Deacons led 61-56, the Catamounts scored five straight points as a Dotson free throw tied the game at 61 with 2:17 to play. Childress was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 1:29 remaining but only made one of three free throw attempts. On the ensuing Catamount possession, Halvorsen was fouled and made both free throws for a 63-62 lead with 70 seconds left in regulation. Hoard’s layup gave the hosts a 64-63 edge with 52 seconds left and he had an opportunity to complete a three-point play after being fouled. Hoard missed the free throw but Isaiah Mucius grabbed the offensive rebound and converted a layup for a 66-63 Wake Forest lead with 48 seconds left. Halvorsen made the first of two free throw attempts with 27 seconds left to bring the Catamounts within two but three turnovers down the stretch combined with five Wake Forest free throws allowed the Demon Deacons to hold on for the victory.
WCU outrebounded Wake Forest 37-35. The Catamounts went 19-for-47 (40.4 percent) from the field and were 16-for-32 (50 percent) at the free throw line. Wake Forest finished 21-for-51 (41.2 percent) from the field and 27-for-38 (71.1 percent) at the charity stripe.
Western Carolina opens Southern Conference play on Saturday, traveling to Furman for a 4 p.m. contest.