Wake led by as many as 40 in the first half

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Wake Forest got a quick breather from a tight Atlantic Coast Conference race on Wednesday night.

Taron Downey scored 13 points in No. 6 Wake Forest's 88-47 rout of struggling Longwood, a game in which the Demon Deacons built a 40-point lead in the first half and never felt even a hint of danger.

Eric Williams added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Demon Deacons (23-4), who had five players in double figures. Chris Ellis had 11 points and eight rebounds in his first start in two seasons.

It was exactly what the Demon Deacons hoped for in facing the Lancers (1-29), a program in its first full season of Division I competition. Wake Forest put the game away early and had no injuries while its starters spent much of the second half cheering wildly from the bench for the reserves.

By the time the horn sounded, Wake Forest had piled up some impressive statistics to rebound from a 102-92 loss at Duke. The Demon Deacons held the Lancers to 28 percent shooting, took a 53-34 rebounding advantage and had 23 assists on 30 field goals.

They also seemed unfazed by a home game with an unusually high number of empty seats. The reported attendance of 10,461 in the 14,665-seat arena was the smallest of the year, a product of playing a team ranked 330th out of 330 D-I schools in the RPI ratings.

"You have to lean on the kids having maturity when you approach the game," coach Skip Prosser said. "We had to create our own enthusiasm. It's nothing about Longwood. It's about Wake Forest and how we play."

The Demon Deacons are 10-3 in the ACC, one game behind league-leading North Carolina with three games remaining. Wake Forest has a slight lead on Duke, which beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday to improve to 10-4 in the league heading into Sunday's home game against Virginia.

"You try not to look into (Longwood's record), but it's hard not to when you go into a game like this," said Justin Gray, who scored eight points off the bench, snapping his streak of 51
consecutive starts. "We set personal goals and you really can't worry about the record once you get started."

The Demon Deacons took all the interest out of this one right away, scoring the game's first 15 points and taking leads of 24-2 and 39-5. That margin grew to 47-7 on Chris Paul's transition layup off an alley-oop pass from Gray with 4:33 left in the half.

By that point, Longwood -- which had neither the size nor speed to compete with the Demon Deacons -- had missed 15-of-18 shots and committed 10 turnovers.

In fact, Prosser's jumbled starting lineup caused the biggest stir early. Ellis got his first start since his freshman year, while Gray was benched for being late to the team's mandatory free-throw shootaround before the game.

Not that any of it mattered much against the Lancers, who extended their school-record losing streak to 18 games.

Ellis, who came in averaging 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds, scored seven of Wake Forest's first 10 points. He threw down a slam off a feed from Williams just 30 seconds into the game, hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Jamaal Levy and scored inside on another feed from Williams.

"Coach just wanted us to keep flying in and being aggressive on the boards," said Ellis, who started because Vytas Danelius was feeling ill. "Coach just told us to keep playing and not look at
the scoreboard."

Ellis helped the Demon Deacons finish with more offensive rebounds (23) than Longwood had on the defensive glass (21).

"They either made the first one, or rebounded and made the second one, or rebounded and made the third one," Longwood coach Mike Gillian said. "And that is somewhat demoralizing as the game goes along."

Even seldom-used reserve Richard Joyce had his moment, entering the game about eight minutes in and slamming down a rebound 14 seconds later.

Wake Forest led 57-22 at halftime, its biggest margin at the break in at least 23 years, and increased the lead to as many as 46 points in the second half.

Michael Jefferson scored 14 points to lead the Lancers.