WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Down by 14 points with about nine minutes remaining in regulation, Houston Baptist seemed to be headed for another defeat on Friday in the midst of a brutally difficult nonconference schedule. But their sophomore leader’s shooting, paired with a suddenly stingy defense, instead left Wake Forest stunned.
Ian DuBose scored 18 points, including a tying 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation, and HBU beat the Demon Deacons 93-91 in overtime.
“I’m as proud as I can be of our team,” Huskies coach Ron Cottrell said. “I thought our guys really laid it on the line at every turn. Every time we needed a critical stop, we got one. Every time we needed a big-time basket, we got one.”
Jalon Gates had 20 points to lead Houston Baptist (2-2). Brandon Childress scored a career-high 27 points and Jaylen Hoard added 22 for Wake Forest.
HBU trailed 71-57 with 8:58 to play after Wake Forest’s Sharone Wright, Jr. scored a layup. But the Huskies defense stiffened down the stretch.
The Demon Deacons (3-2) failed to make another field goal in regulation and committed 10 of their 22 turnovers after Wright’s layup — six in regulation and four in overtime. It was enough to cost Wake Forest the game in spite of a torrid 65 percent shooting performance from the field in the second half.
“All losses are tough,” Demon Deacons coach Danny Manning said. “This one definitely stings.”
DuBose made the most of a chaotic final possession of regulation, stepping back to hit a contested shot and send the game to overtime.
“He doesn’t care if it’s him or somebody else who gets the accolades,” Cottrell said. “It just so happened it fell into his lap to hit the 3 to send it to overtime. But he’s a special guy, and one of our real leaders as a sophomore.”
Wake Forest appeared to regain control early in the extra period, building a 91-87 lead with 1:15 to play. But Gates made his sixth 3-pointer, and the HBU defense forced yet another turnover before Edward Hardt’s layup gave the Huskies a 92-91 lead they would not relinquish.
“I feel great, man,” said Hardt, who atoned for missing five of six free throws earlier in overtime by making the decisive basket. “I go to war with these guys every day. There’s always been a lot of doubt around our program, and it feels good to kind of prove some people wrong.
“We were fighting. We brought that intensity in the second half. And we didn’t let up.”
Houston Baptist: The Huskies overcame a power conference opponent after falling in blowout fashion on the road at Arizona (90-60) and Wisconsin (96-59). “They kicked our tails,” Hardt said of those matchups. “They definitely humbled us, going up against bigger teams from bigger conferences. They definitely got us ready (for Wake Forest).”
His team gets almost a month before visiting another Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Miami on Dec. 19, in their final crack at such opposition this season.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons did little to assuage the notion that this could be a long season. The team was picked to finish next-to-last in the ACC, and even that might be a lofty goal if improvement doesn’t come rapidly.
NORTH CAROLINA CONNECTION
The Huskies’ upset win was especially sweet for the four players on the HBU roster who hail from North Carolina. DuBose is from Durham, and forward Benjamin Uloko grew up close to Wake Forest in the Winston-Salem suburb of Clemmons.
“It was great to see those guys enjoy and celebrate this win in the locker room,” Cottrell said. “We as coaches were worried about, ‘are they too high?’ We were 1 for 9 to start the game, and I’m like, ‘We’re a little too jacked up. We’ve got to calm down a little bit.'”
“The North Carolina guys have had this circled for a long time, believe me.”
Manning opted to have his team play defense in the final seconds of regulation while holding an 83-80 lead. He said he considered sending an HBU player to the free-throw line instead, but ultimately opted against doing so.
“I didn’t think we were rebounding well enough,” Manning said, a legitimate concern after his team yielded 16 offensive rebounds to HBU. Ultimately, DuBose made Wake Forest pay with his 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
Wake Forest: Hosts Western Carolina on Tuesday. The Catamounts, coached by the late Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser’s son Mark, entered the weekend with a 1-5 record.