Winston-Salem, NC - All that glitters was gold for the Demon Deacons in Thursday night's game against the North Carolina Tar Heels as they received their first ACC win of the season, 75-63.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are now 10-9, and 1-5 in the ACC, while the North Carolina Tar Heels drop to 12-9 and 2-4 in the ACC.
"I'm really proud of our kids. We've stayed passionate about the process. Our emphasis tonight was to stay hungry, and we wanted to feast on success. That was on every possession, not a win or a loss," said Jen Hoover, coach for the Demon Deacons.
Demon Deacon, Elisa Penna kick-started the contest from the get-go knocking in a three-pointer within the first 15 seconds of playing time. Penna continued to shine during the first half, contributing eight points and five rebounds for Wake Forest. Ariel Stephenson and Ataijah Taylor showed up with nine points each to contribute to the Deacons' lead.
"Penna's performance was huge tonight. She brings such a new dynamic to this team, just with her ability to shoot the ball. Every day she gets a little more comfortable with everything we're doing," says Hoover on mid-year addition, Penna.
"She would tell you it's her teammates, these kids have wrapped their arms around her and helped her learn and understand everything. She's been a great addition to our team."
The first half was a series of turnovers by both teams, a total of 15 for North Carolina and nine for the Deacons. Wake Forest spent the first and second periods fouling Carolina, which provided an advantage for the Tar Heels, a team who shot 88% from the free throw line in the first half.
This allowed Carolina to get on the board, but Wake Forest held the lead at the half, 36-24. Jamie Cherry contributed 11 of the 24 points for the Carolina Tar Heels.
Wake Forest was quickly on the board at the beginning of the second half to improve their lead to 40-24. North Carolina continued to make careless passes in which they might as well have just handed the Deacons the ball. Stephanie Watts was able to step up for the Tar Heels, contributing 13 points and nine rebounds at the end of the third period.
Penna nailed another three at the beginning of the fourth, bringing the lead up to 59-43 for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest continued to hold an almost 20-point lead throughout the fourth period. A vicious block by Demon Deacon, Amber Campbell, powered up the crowd and her team to finish strong with only 4:49 remaining.
The Tar Heels leading scorer fouled out with 1:16 remaining in the game. Watts finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Penna continued to fight for the win, contributing a total of 18 points and six rebounds for the Deacons. Wake Forest took their first ACC win of the season, 75-63.
The North Carolina Tar Heels will continue their journey down Tobacco Road as they head next door to the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, the 24th at 3 p.m. and then to NC State on January 31st in Raleigh. Wake Forest heads up north to Boston College with a game time of 1 p.m. on January 24th.