WINSTON-SALEM — Another day, another career-high scoring day for Wake Forest 7-footer Olivier Sarr.
The 7-foot Sarr scored 30 points, making 12 of 16 shots, and grabbed 17 rebounds Saturday afternoon for the Demon Deacons (13-15, 6-12 ACC), who pulled away late for an 84-73 victory over Notre Dame, dealing a significant blow to the Fighting Irish’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
With a 10-0 run down the stretch, the Deacons won despite squandering a 16-point, first-half lead.
On Wednesday, Sarr scored a then-career-high 25 points in Wake’s double-overtime victory over No. 7 Duke. Against Notre Dame (18-11, 9-9), Sarr outdueled 6-9 Irish forward John Mooney, who scored 24 points with 17 rebounds, but made only 10 of 22 shots from the field.
Sarr made a variety of shots — turnaround jumpers, hooks, tip-ins and dunks — as Notre Dame failed to deny him the ball. Mooney and 6-10 Juwan Durham often played behind Sarr and were unable to slow him down.
Sarr was also 6-for-7 from the foul line.
“We had no answer for the big fella tonight,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Sarr. “Our senior big guys couldn’t guard him.”
“I don’t know why they kept playing behind (Sarr),” said Wake guard Chaundee Brown, who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. “We just kept feeding him.”
Sarr has made a habit of playing well against the Irish. Last year, he scored what was then a career-high 14 in a Wake victory at Notre Dame.
“I consider Mooney to be one of the best big men. He’s one of the guys I look up to,” Sarr said. “As a competitor, it’s great to have a matchup against him.”
After a hot start with eight quick points, Mooney cooled off from the field. But he had 14 points in the second half, including a dunk that gave the Irish their final lead with 6:52 left, and a 3-pointer that cut the Wake lead to 70-68 with 3:33 to play.
“I really enjoyed watching the two big guys play,” said Wake coach Danny Manning, the star big man on Kansas’ 1988 NCAA championship team. “(Sarr) is really starting to hit his comfort zone.”
Brown hit a key 3-pointer to snap Notre Dame’s 11-0 run early in the second half. Brandon Childress, playing in his final home game, had 14 points, including two key 3-pointers down the stretch.
The Deacons made 7 of 15 3-point field-goal attempts and were 23-for-27 from the foul line.
Nate Laszewski came off the bench to spark the Irish in the second half and finished with 15 points.
Childress’ 3-pointer with 3:09 to go gave Wake a five-point lead, triggering the 10-0 run. A tap-in by Sarr with 2:21 left put the Deacons ahead 75-68, and in control.
Wake raced out to a 39-23 lead and led 41-30 at halftime. The Irish cut the lead to 45-43 on Prentiss Hubb’s jumper after a steal.
T.J. Gibbs gave the Irish their first lead since the opening minutes with a driving basket that made it 57-55 with 9:28 left. But Childress quickly responded with a 3-point shot.
Notre Dame: The loss may have been a dagger to the Irish’s late NCAA run. They likely will need an upset victory on Wednesday at Florida State and a strong showing at the ACC Tournament to have any realistic hopes of making the 68-team field. Sarr exposed a weak Irish interior defense.
Wake Forest: The Deacons, who beat Duke in double overtime earlier in the week, claimed a second straight home victory over a hot opponent. The Deacons can ensure they won’t finish at the bottom of the ACC standings with a victory Tuesday at North Carolina. With Sarr playing at his best, the Deacons could be a dangerous opponent in what looms as a wide-open ACC Tournament.
Notre Dame: Mooney now has 24 double-doubles for the season. The Irish, who entered the game with the third fewest turnovers in the nation at 9.71, committed only four against Wake while recording 13 assists. Mooney was only 2 of 5 from the foul line, and the Irish hit only 15 of 24 attempts (62.5%).
Wake Forest: With back-to-back career scoring highs, Sarr had a combined 55 points in the Deacons’ victories over Duke and Notre Dame. Perhaps overlooked in the victory over the Irish was Brown, who grabbed 10 rebounds and was 5-for-6 at the foul line. The Deacons shot 23 of 27 (85.2%) from the foul line, including 17 of 21 in the second half.
Wake made timely 3-point shots despite taking only 15 attempts. Brown stopped the Irish’s 11-0 run early in the second half. Childress responded to put Wake back in front after Notre Dame took its first second-half lead. Childress’ 3-pointer with 3:09 to go was the back-breaker, restoring the Deacons’ lead to five points by answering a Mooney 3-pointer.
Notre Dame: The Irish host No. 6 Florida State on Wednesday.
Wake Forest: The Deacons play at North Carolina on Tuesday.
Vital’s 27 leads UConn past East Carolina
GREENVILLE — Christian Vital had a season-high 27 points as UConn cruised past East Carolina 84-63 on Saturday.
James Bouknight had 19 points and 10 rebounds for UConn (17-12, 8-8 American Athletic Conference). Isaiah Whaley added 16 points and seven rebounds. Brendan Adams had 11 points.
UConn totaled 42 first-half points, a season best for the team.
Tristen Newton scored a season-high 25 points for the Pirates (11-19, 5-12). Charles Coleman added 12 points.
UConn plays Houston at home on Thursday. East Carolina finishes out the regular season against Central Florida on the road next Sunday.
Knight scores 20 to lead William & Mary past Elon
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Nathan Knight had 20 points as William & Mary got past Elon 86-79 on Saturday.
Knight made 13 of 16 free throws. He added three assists.
Andy Van Vliet had 17 points and 12 rebounds for William & Mary (21-10, 13-5 Colonial Athletic Association), which earned its fifth consecutive win. Bryce Barnes added 15 points and six assists. Quinn Blair had 14 points.
Marcus Sheffield II had 27 points for the Phoenix (11-20, 7-11). Hunter McIntosh added 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Tribe improve to 2-0 against the Phoenix for the season. William & Mary defeated Elon 74-73 on Dec. 30.
Late 3-pointer gives ETSU win over Western Carolina
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Patrick Good scored a season-high 26 points including a 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left to boost East Tennessee State to a 68-67 win over Western Carolina on Saturday with the Buccaneers winning the outright Southern Conference title in their regular-season finale.
The victory was the 27th for ETSU (27-4, 16-2), the most regular-season wins in program history, passing the 26 won by the 1952-53 Buccaneers.
Good answered a 3-pointer by the Catamounts’ Travion McCray that came with 12 seconds remaining. Isaiah Tisdale blocked a shot by McCray in the final second. ETSU players then raced around the court before piling on top of each other in celebration.
Good made all seven of his 14 3-point attempts in the second half. Bo Hodges added 13 points and Tray Boyd III had 10. The Buccaneers made 10 3-pointers but shot only 37.5%. They scored 20 points off 22 WCU turnovers.
Tyler Dotson scored 18 points, McCray 15 on five 3-pointers and Onno Steger 13 for the Catamounts (18-11, 10-8), who shot 52.5%.
Cornwall scores 19, leads Gardner-Webb past Radford
RADFORD, Va. — Jaheam Cornwall and Nate Johnson scored 19 points apiece and Gardner-Webb closed the regular season by knocking Radford out of sole possession of first place in the Big South Conference with a 70-62 win on Saturday.
Nate Jamison Jr. added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Runnin’ Bulldogs (15-15, 11-7), who made 10 3-pointers and shot 51% overall to end at 10-game winning streak for Radford (20-10, 15-3).
The Highlanders dropped into a first-place with Winthrop, which beat High Point 84-76.
Travis Fields, Jr. tied a season high with 22 points for Radford, Carlik Jones added 15 points and six assists amd Devonnte Holland had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Radford defeated Gardner-Webb 67-64 on Jan. 8.
Chattanooga closes out season with win over UNCG
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Ramon Vila scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting and Chattanooga beat UNC Greensboro 74-72 on Saturday.
Matt Ryan had 15 points and eight rebounds for Chattanooga (19-12, 10-8), which closed out Southern Conference play having won five of its last seven.
Kaleb Hunter had 21 points and six rebounds for the Spartans (23-8, 13-5), Isaiah Miller scored 16 points with seven assists and James Dickey had seven rebounds. The Spartans end the regular season on a two-game skid that followed six wins in a row.
David Jean-Baptiste made a pair of foul shots with 1:40 left to give the Mocs a 74-67 lead. But Miller converted a three-point play with 52 seconds left, and a layup 10 seconds later, to reduce the Spartans’ deficit to two.
Jean-Baptiste missed a 3 with 19 seconds left and Kyrin Galloway secured the rebound. UNC Greensboro called timeout with seven seconds left, but Miller’s scoring streak came to an end when his contested layup rolled off the rim to end the game.
App State comeback falls short in loss to Coastal Carolina
BOONE — DeVante’ Jones scored 26 points, including four straight free throws in the last 22 seconds as Coastal Carolina blunted an Appalachian State comeback 84-77 on Saturday.
The Chanticleers saw a 19-point lead whittled down to 80-76 when App State’s Kendall Lewis scored on a driving layup with 30 seconds remaining.
Tyrell Gumbs-Frater had 17 points for Coastal Carolina (15-15, 8-11 Sun Belt Conference). Malik LeGania added 14 points. Tommy Burton had 10 points.
O’Showen Williams had 19 points for the Mountaineers (16-14, 10-9). Isaac Johnson added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Hunter Seacat had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Appalachian State has its most overall wins since the 2010-11 season and most conference wins ever as a member of the Sun Belt.
Coastal Carolina finishes out the regular season against Louisiana-Lafayette on the road on Tuesday. Appalachian State finishes out the regular season against Louisiana-Monroe on the road on Tuesday.
Blount carries NC Central past SC State in 2OT
ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Jibri Blount had 20 points, including a jumper late in regulation that sent the game into extra periods, as NC Central narrowly beat South Carolina State 83-82 in double overtime on Saturday.
The Eagles trailed by two when Blount drained a jumper that tied it 65-all with 20 seconds left in regulation and the score held, forcing the first overtime period.
C.J. Keyser had 17 points for NC Central (15-13, 11-3 Mid-Eastern Conference). Mike Melvin added 15 points.
Damani Applewhite had 21 points for the Bulldogs (11-16, 6-9), whose losing streak reached four games. Trushaun Moorer added 15 points. Ian Kinard had 12 points.
The Eagles improve to 2-0 against the Bulldogs on the season. NC Central defeated South Carolina State 73-56 on Feb. 1. NC Central plays Bethune-Cookman at home on Monday. South Carolina State finishes out the regular season against NC A&T at home on Monday.
Spencer, Lusane lead Campbell past UNC Asheville
BUIES CREEK — Trey Spencer had 13 points to lead five Campbell players in double figures as the Fighting Camels got past UNC-Asheville 78-69 on Saturday.
Joshua Lusane added 12 points for the Fighting Camels. Jesus Carralero chipped in 11, Messiah Thompson scored 11 and Cory Gensler had 10. Lusane also had seven rebounds.
Lavar Batts Jr. had 28 points for the Bulldogs (14-15, 8-10 Big South Conference). DeVon Baker added 16 points. LJ Thorpe had 13 points and six rebounds.
The Fighting Camels improve to 2-0 against the Bulldogs this season. Campbell defeated UNC-Asheville 64-62 on Jan. 8. The Fighting Camels end the regular season at 15-15 (6-12).
Delaware beats UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON — Kevin Anderson had 14 points to lead six Delaware players in double figures as the Fightin’ Blue Hens topped UNC Wilmington 82-65 on Saturday night.
Ryan Allen, Justyn Mutts and Nate Darling added 13 points apiece for the Fightin’ Blue Hens (21-10, 11-7 Colonial Athletic Association). Jacob Cushing chipped in 11 points. Darling also had seven rebounds.
Marten Linssen had 19 points for the Seahawks (10-21, 5-13). Ty Gadsden added 14 points. Shykeim Phillips had 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Jaylen Sims, who led the Seahawks in scoring entering the contest with 12 points per game, scored 3 points. He was 0 of 4 from behind the arc.
The Fightin’ Blue Hens improve to 2-0 against the Seahawks this season. Delaware defeated UNC Wilmington 82-68 on Dec. 28.
High Point falls at Winthrop
ROCK HILL, S.C. — Hunter Hale scored 22 points and Chandler Vaudrin distributed a career-high 15 assists and Winthrop beat High Point 84-76 on Saturday to clinch a share of the Big South Conference regular season championship.
John-Michael Wright had 24 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (9-22, 6-12).
Later in the day, third-place Gardner-Webb pulled a surprise and beat Radford (20-10, 15-3) who entered the day a game up on Winthrop (21-10, 15-3).
Despite Saturday’s results, Radford earned the top seed to the Big South Conference Tournament after league officials conducted tiebreaker scenarios.
Radford and Winford split their season series, and the two split their respective series against third-place Gardner-Webb. They were both undefeated against fourth-place Longwood, leaving the fifth-place tie breaker between Hampton and UNC Asheville as the determining factor. Radford had a 3-1 mark against those two schools while Winthrop went 2-1 against the pair.
It’s the conference’s fifth time with co-champions in the past six seasons.