Wake Forest coach Danny Manning wanted his players to remember the feeling of their 81-80 loss Tuesday to last-seeded Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC basketball tournament.
How could they not remember? It’s a feeling too well known for the Deacons.
Wake Forest (13-19) finished with a losing record for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The 11th-seeded Deacons didn’t win an ACC tournament game for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. And they go into another offseason with a sour taste in their mouths.
“This is supposed to fuel you when you’re working out in the summer,” said Manning, who finished his first season as Wake Forest’s coach. “This is supposed to fuel you when you’re practicing and the season gets long and you’re tired. Remembering this feeling and not wanting to have this feeling.”
Down by one with six seconds left, Wake Forest got off the shot it wanted. Dinos Mitoglou, who earlier had hit a 3-pointer to give the Deacons a brief lead, had a jumper from the corner that rimmed out. Devin Thomas got his hand on a tip-in that rolled around the rim and came off. Then Codi Miller-McIntyre had a shot at a tip-in that also rolled off as time expired.
“I guess it wasn’t meant to happen,” said Miller-McIntyre, who had a team-high 23 points. “I was in the right position, got a hand on the ball, but it just rolled out.”
But it wasn’t the missed tip-ins that beat the Deacons. Virginia Tech’s Jalen Hudson was the culprit. His 32 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while making all 10 free throws, crushed Wake Forest, which struggled with its help defense.
Down 68-66 with four minutes left, Hudson had 20 points. He finished the game going 3-for-3 from the field, 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and turned the ball over just once. His layup on a slash to the basket with 12 seconds remaining gave the Hokies the final advantage.
“He’s extremely aggressive,” Miller-McIntyre said. “Once he got his few points, he just kept on attacking and attacking the rim. He made 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. That was the biggest thing. He saw he could get in the paint and do that and continued to do that throughout the game.”
One bright spot for the Deacons was Thomas, who had been invisible for most of February and March.
After averaging 13 points per game through January, Thomas finished the final nine games of the season averaging 8.9 points. Against Duke a week ago he had zero points, one rebound and four turnovers.
He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, but he had a costly lane violation on a made Madison Jones free throw that erased one point.
Thomas and Miller-McIntyre should return next season along with three four-star freshmen. Manning feels good about the future, but he doesn’t believe they salvaged enough of what’s been a trying stretch of years for the Wake Forest program.
“I wish we were better off than we are right now,” Manning said. “But I do feel we’re moving in the right direction. Not as fast as I would like or we would like, but we’re getting there. Our foundation is almost down and intact and we’ll continue to work on that and build on that.”
Boston College 66, Georgia Tech 65: Boston College’s leading scorer Olivier Hanlan scored the game-winning jumper with less than 11 seconds left to lift the Eagles (13-18) past the Yellow Jackets (12-19). Hanlan finished with 25 points in a game that saw three lead changes in the game’s final minute.
Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9