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Wake steals win from Cavalier men

On a night when the Cavs had their opportunity to send a message to the NCAA Selection Committee that they belong in March's biggest Dance party, Wake Forest's clutch play delayed the invitation.

The Virginia men's basketball team (18-10, 8-7 ACC) trailed for the majority of the game, but Adam Hall's free throw with 6:52 remaining gave the Cavs the lead and renewed hopes of escaping with a crucial Conference victory.

But seconds later, Wake forward Darius Songaila was fouled and calmly sank two shots. From then on, the Deacons (16-13, 7-9) never relinquished the lead, holding on for an 80-75 victory before a crowd of 8,176 at University Hall last night.

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  • Virginia fell behind by as many as 10 in the first half, but Chris Williams drilled a three-pointer at the period-closing buzzer to cut the deficit to seven. The sophomore forward posted a game-high 23 points and breathed life into the sluggish Cavs at the break.

    Wake Forest seemed to have answers for each Virginia run and quickly countered in the second half. The raucous home crowd and the inspired play of sophomore Adam Hall might have proved fatal for the Deacons on most nights, but Wake weathered each Cav storm. Clutch free throws down the stretch by the Deacs prevented Virginia from sweeping the season series.

    "On their home court, a place that they've been almost unbeatable this year, we did not come unraveled." Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said.

    Darius Songaila, the reigning ACC Player of the Week, continued his exemplary season with 22 points and a perfect 14-for-14 night from the charity stripe.

    Virginia defeated the Deacons, 76-67, a month ago. But the inexperience of a starting lineup that includes two freshmen and two sophomores prevented the Cavs from doing the same last night.

    "Same old story - we are just not mature enough to understand what it takes to win in this terrific league," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "You've got to play every night with fire, with emotion, with intensity, and we didn't."

    The Deacons shot 53 percent from the field and out-muscled Virginia on the boards. The mammoth trio of Rafael Vidauretta, Darius Songaila and Josh Shoemaker, all 6-foot-9, was able to beat up on a smaller Cav front line.

    "It was real physical down there today, and the referees were letting a lot of things go," freshman center Travis Watson said.

    While Hall's rim-shaking dunks and Williams' steady play kept the Cavs from falling far behind Wake, Virginia will need a stronger performance tomorrow night when it hosts No. 17 Maryland. A victory in that contest would not only avenge an earlier loss to the Terps but also could grab the attention of the NCAA Selection Committee.

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