Originally created 03/09/02

Wake Forest defeats Georgia Tech



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The second-hottest team in the ACC ran out of second chances Friday night.

Georgia Tech's late-season bid for postseason eligibility expired with a 92-83 loss to Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Charlotte Coliseum.

The Jackets (15-16) dug themselves a 17-point hole at halftime and couldn't fully recover. Georgia Tech got as close as three (81-78) in the closing minutes, but the Deacons (20-11) hung on to allay any doubts off their NCAA worthiness.

Despite an 8-2 stretch run in the regular season, the tournament loss left Georgia Tech a game below .500 and ineligible for an NIT bid.

Tony Akins, the senior point guard and second team All-ACC selection, hoped to cap his career by leading the young Jackets to a postseason appearance that seemed unlikely in January when Tech started 0-7 in ACC and was 8-14 overall.

Akins failed to score through the first 15 minutes, but he refused to let the Jackets quit despite the early deficit and a secondary surge by the Deacons that put Wake ahead 81-71 with 4:26 remaining.

A jam follow by Is'mail Muhammad, a Clarence Moore layup and a 3-pointer by Akins cut it to 81-78 with 1:50 left.

But Darius Songaila, who finished with 23 points, scored on a power move inside to push the lead back to 83-78 and a pair of Jackets' missed 3-pointers ended Tech's hopes.

Wake Forest lost its precision in the second half, but when it counted the Deacons controlled the offensive glass for second-chance opportunities down the stretch. Josh Howard led Wake with 23 points and 12 rebounds, seven on the offensive end.

Akins finished with 22, Moore 17 and Muhammad 16. Freshman B.J. Elder, who was limited to six minutes and zero shots because of three quick fouls in the first half, scored 11 in the second half.

Perhaps iced by the full-day delay before the 9:40 p.m. tipoff, the Jackets came out cold against the Deacons' zone defense. Missing nine consecutive 3-pointers during one 11-minute stretch, Georgia Tech's offense stagnated while Wake Forest issued a 34-13 run over that span to convert a six-point deficit into a 15-point lead.

By halftime, Wake Forest led 52-35 behind 64-percent shooting that balanced across the floor - seven 3-pointers, six inside baskets and five fast-break buckets.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.