Jan 12, 2002
By JENNA FRYERAP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Darius Songaila had an ice pack around his shooting hand and a gash under his eye, a couple of rewards for No. 19 Wake Forest’s perfect conference record.
Songaila and his frontcourt teammates combined for 46 points Saturday to lead Wake Forest to a 96-55 rout of Clemson, its seventh straight win over the Tigers.
The Demon Deacons (13-3, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their fifth consecutive game and kept pace with No. 4 Maryland as the only undefeated teams in the conference.
Songaila, like the rest of his teammates, said the quick start means nothing.
“It is very early in the ACC season so all it means is we can finish 3-13 in this league,” he said. “I’ve seen too many things happen to a team to get excited about it.”
Wake has earned its three victories with ease, beating conference opponents by an average of 28 points. And first-year coach Skip Prosser, the only rookie in the ACC, thinks his team is only getting better.
After proclaiming last week’s 84-62 win at North Carolina the best game Wake had played this season, he updated the statement to make the win over Clemson his current favorite.
“I think we played better in this one,” Prosser said. “We’ve been talking about not looking at the scoreboard, to just keep attacking and attacking, and we did that here.”
In listening to the Prosser, Wake ran up its highest point total in an ACC game since 1993. Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said it could have been a lot worse.
“These guys got 96 and it was like a freight train that could have scored well over 100,” Shyatt said.
This meeting against the Tigers (11-6, 2-2) was just as lopsided as the last one, which Wake won 92-60 last year at Clemson.
Antwan Scott led Wake’s frontcourt charge with 17 points, forward Josh Howard scored 16, Songaila had 14 and reserve forward Vytas Danelius had 11 points and 13 rebounds, the most by any Wake player this season.
Craig Dawson, who has made at least one 3-pointer in every game this season and had a career-high seven in Monday’s win over Navy, hit four and finished with 16 points for Wake Forest.
Jamar McKnight led Clemson with 13 points, while Sharrod Ford added 11.
The Demon Deacons took control early in the first half, led by double digits almost the entire game and never stopped pushing the ball – even after the starters went to the bench midway through the second half.
“I’m going to try hard to find something that we were better at,” Shyatt said. “But we’re going to have to eat pretty well on the bus for me to do that.”
Wake used a 24-9 run, holding Clemson scoreless for 3:26 of the span, to open a 33-14 lead with 9:50 to play in the first half.
Clemson, coming off Tuesday’s 68-52 upset over No. 7 Virginia, unraveled during the stretch.
Chris Hobbs, at 6-foot-7 one of the few options the Tigers had to use to stop Wake’s inside game, went to the bench with his third foul with 10:09 to play in the first half.
“He’s a handful for us inside,” Prosser said. “So that really helped our effort that he was in foul trouble.”
Songaila, sensing the mismatch, immediately posted up for a layup on Wake’s next possession that drew a foul. Shyatt stomped onto the court to argue the call, drawing a technical that made him so upset he backhanded a row of paper cups filled with water off the scorer’s table.
Any chance the Tigers might have had to get back in the game was lost when Hobbs fouled out with 11:33 to play, leaving Wake’s frontcourt free to dominate.
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