Local News

Wake Forest Rallies Late To Defeat FSU 69-61

Posted March 14, 2003 1:29 a.m. EST

— Josh Howard struggled but still scored 17 points Friday to lead No. 9 Wake Forest to a 69-61 victory over Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Wake Forest, the No. 1 seed in the tournament after winning its first outright ACC title in 41 years, couldn't shake the ninth-seeded Seminoles for almost 30 minutes.

But Howard, the ACC Player of the Year, scored on consecutive baskets in a stretch of five straight by Wake Forest to give the Demon Deacons (24-4) control of the game.

He scored on an off-balance pump-fake in double coverage, then nailed a 12-foot jumper to give Wake Forest a 58-52 lead with 5:51 to play - the Deacons first comfortable margin of the game.

Howard finished 7-of-15 from the floor - 0-for-3 from 3-point range - and went 3-for-6 at the line.

Freshman Justin Gray had 15 points for Wake Forest, Vytas Danelius added 14 and sophomore Jamaal Levy had 12 rebounds.

Tim Pickett scored 17 points for Florida State (14-15). Trevor Harvey added 15, Anthony Richardson had 14 and Michael Joiner scored 10, but none in the second half.

Wake Forest didn't take its first lead of the game until Howard's free throw made it 40-39 with 13:35 to play.

But the Demon Deacons couldn't shake Florida State. Richardson scored on a layup and Pickett hit a 3-pointer - and then celebrated the shot by jawing at television analyst Dick Vitale as he passed him on the baseline - to put the Seminoles back up 44-42.

Florida State's energy soon ran out.

Coming off a 72-61 victory over Clemson in Thursday night's first-round game, the Seminoles began to tire just as Wake Forest warmed up. The frantic back-and-forth pace had Florida State's players looking haggard by the time Danelius hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 50 with 9:16 to play.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton called a timeout to give the Seminoles a breather, but there was little stopping Wake Forest out of the break.

The Demon Deacons scored five-straight baskets, beginning with a Danelius dunk, Howard's back-to-back baskets and 3-pointer from Taron Downey that gave Wake Forest a 63-56 lead with 4:24 to play.

Pickett wouldn't go away quietly, though, hitting a 3-pointer that cut it to 63-59 with 3:47 left.

After Levy scored on a bank shot for Wake, Pickett got the ball inside to Richardson, who drew a foul and hit both free throws. The Seminoles then got a steal, but Pickett couldn't convert - he thought he was fouled as he went in for the layup - and Florida State had to foul on every Wake Forest possession from there.

Gray and Howard then made four consecutive free throws to seal Wake Forest's seventh consecutive victory.