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March 4, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Three minutes into Thursday's second half, fifth-seeded Wake Forest had 17 turnovers, stood 0-for-10 in 3-point shots and trailed upset-seeking Miami by 11 points. What might have been an untenable trio for many teams became a motivational challenge for the Demon Deacons, who righted themselves and held on for a 66-65 overtime victory in an ACC Tournament first-round game.
Brittany Waters' three-point play with one minute left in overtime broke the day's final tie and elevated fifth-seeded Wake Forest over a determined and 12th-seeded Miami team.
"Our coach talked about resilience at halftime, and we just stuck to it," Waters said of the boss, Mike Petersen. "We took it play-by-play and made some smart plays. If you dwell on one play or one thing, you'll be messed up for the rest of the game."
The Demon Deacons trailed 36-25 at one point in the second half and surged to a seven-point lead before the Canes rallied behind Riquna Williams, whose dribble penetration kept Wake off balance all day. Williams delivered 28 points for Miami (17-13).
Waters' runner in the lane and subsequent free throw gave Wake a 66-63 edge, and the Deacs admitted that conventional offense had evolved into Afternoon at the Improv.
"They figured out our plays," Waters said. "They got smart with it. Once they figure it out, you've just got to play basketball. You look for open players. You look for open gaps. And then you have confidence that you can do it."
Williams drove down the key for a layup less than 13 seconds later to make it 66-65. The Hurricanes forced a 30-foot 3-point field-goal attempt, snagged the rebound and called time out with 12.2 seconds to set up a final play.
Coach Katie Meier elected to employ Williams as a decoy and run things through her other leader, forward Shenise Johnson. Miami cleared the right side of the floor for Johnson, but Courteney Morris stood her ground, got two hands in Johnson's face without fouling and induced a miss that ended it.
"Pretty crazy," Morris said. "I just tried to get my hand up."
The Deacs (18-12) advanced to Friday's quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Georgia Tech (22-8). The Yellow Jackets won the teams' regular-season meeting 72-66 in Atlanta on Jan. 14.
Friday's outcome wasn't resolved until five extra minutes had expired, but Wake effectively won it with a stretch in which it eliminated turnovers and re-established the post presence of freshman Sandra Garcia, who scored six of her 18 points in quick succession. That finally freed up the perimeter, and when Morris made a 3-pointer off the left wing with 12:35 left, the Deacs were on the board from downtown and leading 40-38 on the strength of an 11-0 run.
The Deacs held the Hurricanes to one field goal in a 10-minute stretch and took a 50-43 lead with 6:46 to play, but Johnson and Williams combined for 15 points to lead the overtime-forcing rally. Johnson's drive off a clear-out tied it at 59-59 with 16.8 seconds to go.
Wake missed a last-second shot at the buzzer, and the teams went to OT. Waters gave her team some breathing room, but there was no cause to exhale entirely until Johnson's last shot carried over the basket.