It took a little scare for Wake Forest to settle into this year’s ACC tournament.
The 10th-seeded Demon Deacons couldn’t shake 15th-seeded Boston College until a dominant three-minute spurt early in the second half en route to a 92-78 victory in Tuesday’s first round at the Barclays Center.
Bryant Crawford scored 20 points for Wake Forest (19-12), which needed the triumph to keep its hopes alive for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
The Demon Deacons will face seventh-seeded Virginia Tech (21-9) in Wednesday’s second round at 7 p.m. in a rematch of Saturday’s regular-season finale. Wake Forest won that game 89-84 in Blacksburg, Va.
Jerome Robinson had 17 points for the Eagles (9-23), who ended the season on a 15-game losing streak and lost star freshman guard Ky Bowman to a right leg injury in the first half.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Demon Deacons, the longest winning streak of their season, and it came despite some sluggish early play. Sophomore center John Collins didn’t attempt a shot from the floor in the first half, and Boston College managed to erase a 10-point hole and tie it at 53.
From there, Wake Forest figured things out. Reserve guard Brandon Childress connected on a 3-pointer, and Crawford added a steal and score seconds later. After a Boston College timeout, Collins delivered his first two baskets of the day, the second a dunk to make it 62-53 as part of a 14-1 run.
Collins finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Wake Forest bolstered its NCAA tournament chances considerably in the final week of the regular season thanks to victories over Louisville and Virginia Tech. A loss to the last-place Eagles could have been catastrophic to the Deacons’ NCAA hopes; instead, they’ll try to solidify them Wednesday night against Virginia Tech.
No. 10 seed Wake Forest (19-12) will take a four-game winning streak and hopes of slipping into the NCAA tournament into a matchup with seventh-seeded Virginia Tech on Wednesday at Barclays Center.
“I can’t say for sure. Selection Sunday we'll find out if 19 is the number that we end on, but that’s not our goal,” said Austin Arians, who scored 17. “Our goal is to win as many games here in New York as possible.”