Wake Forest was all too aware of its problems on the road in ACC play.
The Demon Deacons finally did something about it on Saturday. Sophomore John Collins scored 21 points and Wake Forest had a lights-out performance from the foul line to beat N.C. State 93-88 for its first ACC road win in three years.
The Deacs (12-7, 3-4 ACC) had lost 25 straight on the road in league play, and all 20 under third-year coach Danny Manning, but they went 29 of 33 from the foul line to hang on for their first ACC road win since Jan. 2014 at Virginia Tech.
“We’re ecstatic,” Collins said. “We got our first road win under (Manning). I’m really happy for him, just for us to get this one for him.”
Sophomore guard Keyshawn Woods, who added 18 points, said it was impossible to avoid all of the talk about the losing streak.
“We see it when we watch games and when we re-watch our games and it comes up,” Woods said. “So we knew what the streak was and we knew we needed to break it, and we did it tonight.
The Wolfpack (13-7, 2-5) got 20 points from forward Abdul-Malik Abu, and 15 points and 13 assists from freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr., but fell behind by 10 points in the second half and couldn’t complete a mad scramble in the final minute to avoid its first home loss to Wake Forest since 2005.
Senior guard Terry Henderson (11 points) scored eight points in the final 40 seconds and had a steal with 5.2 seconds left with N.C. State down 91-88 but was ruled out of bounds by official Jamie Luckie. The replay showed Henderson wasn’t out of bounds but the call was not reviewed. According to ACC rules, the play, even though it happened in the final 2 minutes, was not reviewable.
After N.C. State got as close as 68-67, Wake got six straight points from forward Dinos Mitoglou and then stretched out to a 79-69 lead with 4:50 left.
Abu had 17 points in the first half and Smith had nine assists to pace N.C. State to a 44-43 lead the break. N.C. State shot 65.5 percent (19 of 29) in the first half.
But Wake Forest went 23 of 26 from the foul line in the second half, compared to 11 of 19 by N.C. State, to put away the game.
“We’re happy about it but we’ve got more to play,” Manning said. “We feel like we can put ourselves in situations to have some success on the road. We just haven’t finished well. That’s something we’re making a conscious effort of every time we step out on the court, whether it’s practice or a game, is to finish strong. And tonight we were able to finish strong enough.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio