Richmond 73

(3-2, 1-2 away)

(1) Wake Forest 90

(6-1, 3-0 home)

    2:00 PM ET, December 4, 2004

    Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-salem, North Carolina

    1 2 T
    RICH 30 4373
    #1WAKE 39 5190

    Top Performers

    Richmond: D. Merritt 10 Pts, 4 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

    Wake Forest: E. Williams 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Williams scores season-high 21

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- At least Wake Forest can enjoy its final days as the nation's top-ranked team.

    Eric Williams had a season-high 21 points and Justin Gray added 22 on Saturday to lift the Demon Deacons past Richmond 90-73, helping them rebound from a lopsided loss at Illinois earlier this week.

    Jamaal Levy added a terrific all-around effort -- including 10 offensive rebounds to tie a school record -- for the Demon Deacons (6-1), who will almost certainly fall from the No. 1 ranking next week.

    But at least the Demon Deacons head into nine-day break for final exams on a good note. They never trailed Saturday, shooting 53 percent and playing improved defense against the Spiders (3-2).

    "We felt real aggressive. We felt real emotional," said Williams, who also had seven rebounds and three blocks. "We played with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.

    "In the Illinois game, I didn't sense we played with emotional energy. I think we were just playing basketball to play basketball. Today we changed it."

    They certainly needed this win after Wednesday's 91-73 loss to the fifth-ranked Illini. In that game, Illinois shot 56 percent, hit 11 3-pointers and led by as many as 32 points in the second half.

    As if the Demon Deacons needed any help remembering the loss, a group of vocal Richmond fans chanted "Illinois! Illinois!" at one point in the first half.

    But the Demon Deacons, who allowed the Illini to do just about anything they wanted, played better defensively against Richmond. The Spiders shot just 39 percent, including a 3-for-14 stretch early in the second half that helped the Demon Deacons build a comfortable lead.

    Wake Forest had little trouble on offense, shooting 60 percent in the second half and going 22-for-31 from the line.

    Williams was key after the break, scoring 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting. The 6-foot-9 center is listed at 290 pounds on the roster, but said he is down to about 265 and has worked to improve his conditioning to play in the up-tempo attack.

    "It is a good bet if we throw it in there to him, good things are going to happen," coach Skip Prosser said. "He is a real load on the offensive end of the floor."

    Wake Forest got contributions throughout its lineup. Gray had 18 first-half points, while sixth man Taron Downey had 11 points and four assists.

    Meanwhile, Levy, a wiry 6-9 senior, had eight points, six assists, a steal and a block in 32 minutes. His 10 rebounds helped the Demon Deacons to a 44-31 edge on the glass.

    "It's almost impossible for everybody to score 10 points a night," Levy said. "Somebody's got to step forward, play good defense and try to get everybody on the same page. And that's what I always try to do."

    Though Wake Forest had no shortage of solid performances, Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright -- a former Wake Forest assistant from 1985-94 -- sounded most impressed by Levy.

    "He can handle the ball and guard four positions, and he's active," Wainright said. "Probably what I should ask the people over here is what they feed them. I assume it's a high-sugar diet. That cat never stops moving."

    The Demon Deacons were their own worst enemy early, committing eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes to help Richmond hang around. Once they started protecting the ball, they gradually increased their lead to as much as 23 points late in the game.

    Leading 39-30 at the break, Wake Forest scored on its first three possessions after halftime to push the lead to 15. Williams was big in that spurt, hitting two free throws after being fouled inside and throwing down a dunk.

    Richmond got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way, and Wake Forest turned the final minutes into a display of its high-scoring transition offense -- including a slam from Williams off a no-look feed from Chris Paul for an 82-61 lead with 4:07 left.

    "It was over with and we wanted to come in and play well," Gray said of the Illinois loss. "Toward the end of the game, I think we did just that."

    Jermaine Bucknor scored 14 points to lead the Spiders. Kevin Steenberge, Richmond's leading scorer at 18 points per game, managed just four points and was never a factor.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 73 90
    FG Made-Attempted 25-65 (.385) 30-57 (.526)
    3P Made-Attempted 9-23 (.391) 8-15 (.533)
    FT Made-Attempted 14-19 (.737) 22-31 (.710)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 20 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 23

    2004-05 Season

    » Dec 4, 2004 @WAKE 90, RICH 73Recap