ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Wake Forest unleashed its inside-out approach Friday, getting plenty of mileage out of it even when the shots were not falling.
Brandon Childress scored 18 points, Olivier Sarr added 16 and the Demon Deacons went 24 of 25 from the free-throw line to advance to the championship game of the Wooden Legacy with an 88-75 victory over Long Beach State on Friday afternoon.
It hardly mattered that field goals were hard to come by. The Demon Deacons were held without a basket over a seven-minute stretch of the second half and shot just 43.5 percent in the game.
Instead, they forced the action by drawing 20 fouls and holding a 43-27 rebounding advantage. Their 96% shooting from the free-throw line was a Wooden Legacy record.
“Get the ball below the free-throw line,” Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning said. “Once we get the ball below the free-throw line, we have a chance to have success whether we’re attacking the rim or kicking it back out for an open shot. We were able to do that against that zone they threw out there.”
Chaundee Brown scored 13 and Andrien White added 12 as the Demon Deacons (5-2) moved on to Sunday’s championship game where they will face the winner of Friday’s semifinal game between Arizona and Penn.
Michael Carter III scored 18 points and Chance Hunter added 17 for the Beach (3-5), who will play in the tournament’s third-place game.
Long Beach State was within five points with 14 minutes remaining but appeared to run out of gas a day after an upset victory over Providence.
“I like where my team is going, I think we’re getting better, but we weren’t good enough today,” Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. “Wake Forest controlled that game. We could never really make a run because we just couldn’t keep them off the foul line or keep them from offensive rebounds.”
Wake Forest had 19 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. Long Beach State had six offensive rebounds and zero second-chance points.
After shooting just 36% from the field in an opening-round victory over College of Charleston on Thursday, Wake Forest was only slight better a day later. So, the Demon Deacons took advantage of their depth with a 36-9 advantage in bench points, with six players scoring in double figures.
“It just goes to show you that the ball doesn’t stick,” Childress said. “We’re doing a better job of feeding off one another. Whoever has it going on in that particular situation, we’re just feeding off of them and going from there. … Six guys in double figures — that’s huge.”
Wake Forest opened a 14-point lead with 10:34 remaining on a free throw from Michael Wynn, and then weathered a 0-for-10 stretch from the field midway through the second half by scoring 11 consecutive points at the free-throw line.
Wake Forest was 0 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half but went 20 for 21 from the free-throw line after halftime.
The Demon Deacons took a 38-31 lead into halftime after White hit a running shot from half court at the buzzer.
“We didn’t get a shot we really wanted … and it’s a six-point swing,” Monson said about the Beach’s last possession of the first half. “It’s (our) 3-pointer that doesn’t go and a 3-pointer (for Wake Forest) that does go. Instead of being down two at halftime we’re down eight and I don’t think we ever really recovered from that.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have been comfortable in the cozy confines of Anaheim Arena, going 5-0 all-time in the building across the street from the Disneyland Resort. Along with the two victories in the current Wooden Legacy, Wake Forest won all three games in the 2008 version of the tournament while winning the title.
Long Beach State: The Beach made its second consecutive trip to the Wooden Legacy semifinals after also advancing in the winners’ bracket in the 2009 version of the tournament. Long Beach State defeated Xavier in the 2009 third-place game.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons will play the winner of the Arizona-Penn matchup later Friday in Sunday’s Wooden Legacy title game.
Long Beach State: The Beach will face the loser of the Arizona-Penn matchup later Friday in Sunday’s Wooden Legacy third-place game.