Wake Forest uses free throws to beat UCLA 80-77 in Maui
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Wake Forest got two players back from suspension and lost one to the flu. As long as the Demon Deacons were at the free-throw line, everything was all right.
Devin Thomas had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Wake Forest, despite not making a field goal over the final 5:40, beat UCLA 80-77 on Wednesday night for third place in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
The Demon Deacons (4-2) had a huge advantage at the line, going 30 of 42 compared to UCLA's 8 of 14.
Thomas made 9 of 11 foul shots, and Cornelius Hudson, one of two players reinstated from suspension earlier in the day, was 11 of 16 on free throws. Hudson finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Demon Deacons had to play without starting freshman point guard Bryant Crawford, who was sick.
''This was a very hard-fought ballgame. I thought both teams competed very well,'' Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. ''For us, we lost Bryant Crawford right before tipoff. He came down with the flu, and he couldn't go. We brought two guys back from suspension, Rondale Watson and Cornelius Hudson, and they played very good minutes for us today. They helped us win the ballgame.''
Tony Parker had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Bruins (3-3), while Isaac Hamilton added 18 points.
UCLA coach Steve Alford was candid about the free-throw difference.
''I thought our guys competed. This was a team that was plus-12 on the backboard. We beat them eight. We hold them to 40 percent shooting,'' Alford said. ''Forty-two free throws to 14. I've been doing this 25 years. I've been on the short end of a lot of things. I've never had an experience where I've had a team get outshot 42-14 at the free-throw line. That was the difference in the game.''
UCLA, which opened the tournament with a win over UNLV before losing to No. 5 Kansas in the semifinals, trailed 70-65 after Wake Forest's last field goal: a rebound tip by Thomas with 5:41 to play.
The Bruins couldn't get the field goal they needed down the stretch while the Demon Deacons were going 10 of 16 from the line. Hudson's free throw with 3.7 seconds left made it 80-75 and Hamilton's layup at the buzzer accounted for the final score.
''I just did whatever Coach asked me to do,'' Hudson said of his return. ''Unfortunately we missed Bryant, our key point guard, so someone had to step up handling the ball, so that's what I did.''
Wake Forest opened the tournament with a final-seconds win over No. 13 Indiana, and then lost to No. 19 Vanderbilt in the semifinals.
''It feels pretty good going 2-1 in such a great tournament like this,'' Thomas said. ''We would have loved to go 3-0, but we laid an egg yesterday against a very good Vanderbilt team. It just shows the resilience of our team bouncing back from that game yesterday and coming up with a big win today.''
Mitchell Wilbekin had 15 points for Wake Forest, and Dinos Mitoglou scored 14.
Bryce Alford, the coach's son, finished with 14 points and seven assists for the Bruins, and Thomas Welsh had 10 points.
The only other time these schools met was also in a third-place game. Wake Forest prevailed 82-80 in consolation game of the 1962 Final Four.
Wake Forest announced about 6 1/2 hours before the game that Hudson and Watson were reinstated. They were suspended from the team on Oct. 31 for violating unspecified athletic department rules. Hudson is the younger brother of Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree. Watson had four points in 26 minutes.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had four players averaging double figures coming into the night, and that's how many they had in the game. ... This was the first time Wake Forest won two games in a November or December tournament since it won the 76 Classic in Anaheim, California in 2008. ... The loss to Vanderbilt was the first time the Demon Deacons were outrebounded this season. They lost the battle of the boards to UCLA, 45-37.
Wake Forest is at Rutgers on Monday.
UCLA hosts Cal State Northridge on Sunday.