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No. 23 Notre Dame post first-ever win at Wake Forest

By
The Sports Xchange

Senior power forward Zach Auguste had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Demetrius Jackson scored all 15 of his points in the second half to lead No. 23 Notre Dame to a 69-58 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Winning for the first time in school history at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Notre Dame (19-8, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) improved to 7-1 in its past eight games in the state of North Carolina. The Irish are 10-1 overall against teams from North Carolina since the start of the 2014-15 ACC season.

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Auguste recorded his 15th double-double of the season and 19th of his career.

"(We knew) it's going to be a battle in the paint, it's going to be a battle on the glass, and I took that challenge personally," Auguste said. "I wanted to go out there and rebound as much as I could and help the team win."

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Notre Dame bounced back from a loss and pulled into a tie with Virginia for fourth place in the ACC.

Junior guard Steve Vasturia added 16 points for the Irish, who had lost three of their previous four ACC road games. They posted their fourth road win in conference play.

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Freshman forward John Collins led the Demon Deacons (11-17, 2-14) with 16 points.

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After coming up short Saturday in a one-point loss at Georgia Tech, Notre Dame did it on this night with defense. Notre Dame held Wake Forest to 31.4 percent shooting from the field, 16.7 percent from 3-point range.

"I'm really proud of our group," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "We had to defend to win tonight."

Notre Dame closed it out by making its final 10 free throws in the last 2:09. The Irish went 17-for-20 from the foul line overall, all in the second half.

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Scoreless after missing all four of his shots from the floor in the first half, Jackson got going early in the second half.

His reverse layup pushed the Irish's lead to four and gave him his first points. Jackson, the team's leading scorer at just under 17 points a game coming in, then pushed the pace and finished a break with another layup to bump the margin to six points. He seemed to operate at a different gear, a confident, quicker one, early in the second half, and his teammates followed his lead.

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Once one Notre Dame guard got going, the other quickly followed. Vasturia returned off the first media timeout of the second half to bust loose for eight quick points, including a pair of deep 3-pointers. Then when Jackson jumped back into the scoring mix with a fade mid-range jumper, Notre Dame was back up 10 again.

Wake Forest eventually ran off five unanswered points, and it was back to executing game situations in a close conference road game. Again.

"It was a tough win on the road," Auguste said. "We executed down the stretch when it counted. Demetrius had great leadership. We had a great second half."

Wake Forest tied it at 28 in the opening minute of the second half but never could get the lead, in part because of poor shooting. The Demon Deacons finished 4-for-24 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"I think we're a better shooting team (than that)," coach Danny Manning said.

Wake also made only 10 of 17 free throws.

"We have to do a better job of rewarding ourselves when we get to that free-throw line," Manning said.

Notre Dame found a good flow in the first half.

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The Irish downshifted away from their traditional two-power-forward look and played with a heavy perimeter emphasis. That allowed them to twice lead by 10 points in the first half and go up 28-25 at the break.

Offensive struggles eventually set in again as Notre Dame labored in the final 2:42 before the break without a bucket. The Irish came into Wednesday's game having trailed by an average of eight points in the first half in their previous 10 ACC games.

Wake Forest led by as many as two points in the first 20 minutes. Freshman center Doral Moore paced the Deacons with nine first-half points. Vasturia topped the Irish with eight points in the opening half.

Wake Forest led Wednesday for all of 46 seconds.

"Early on, I think we did some things and gave ourselves a chance for success," Manning said. "When teams deliver blows, we've got to deliver blows back. We didn't do that nearly enough."

NOTES: Notre Dame senior PF Zach Auguste missed a day of practice earlier in the week after sustaining a hyperextended right knee in the closing seconds of a loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday. Auguste started Wednesday. ... Notre Dame's three-games-in-eight-days road swing concludes Saturday at Florida State. The Irish traveling party already decided to go straight to Tallahassee before much of Northern Indiana fell under a blizzard warning Wednesday. ... Wake Forest's three-game homestand wraps up Saturday against Virginia Tech. ... The Demon Deacons again were without senior F Devin Thomas, their leading scorer and rebounder, who was sitting out his second and final game after a violation of athletic department policy. ... Notre Dame beat Wake Forest by 23 points last month in South Bend.

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