Published December 12, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman Tanner Milson scored 18 points and hit five of North Carolina-Wilmington's season-high 14 3-pointers in an 81-69 rout of Wake Forest on Sunday.
Chad Tomko added 18 points, Keith Rendleman scored 16 and freshman Donte Morales added a season-high 13 for the Seahawks (4-4).
UNC Wilmington was 14 of 27 from beyond the arc, shot 50 percent and led by double figures for virtually the entire second half to claim its first win in 13 meetings with the Demon Deacons and give coach Buzz Peterson his biggest victory in his first year at the school.
UNC Wilmington improved to 2-31 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams and beat one for the first time since knocking off North Carolina State in 1992. No team this season made more 3s against the Demon Deacons (5-4).
Gary Clark scored 20 points, Ari Stewart added 15 and C.J. Harris finished with 12 for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons shot 49 percent and held a 33-25 rebounding advantage yet had their three-game winning streak snapped in decisive fashion, in the process suffering their fourth loss to a mid-major program during coach Jeff Bzdelik's first season.
The Seahawks used a 13-2 run midway through the first half to stretch their lead into double figures, a burst keyed by three 3s. UNC Wilmington led 45-35 at the break on Milson's 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer — the Seahawks' ninth 3 of the half — and gradually increased their lead the rest of the way.
The Seahawks went up 62-46 on Milson's 3 from the right wing with about 11 minutes left, then stretched it into the 20s when Tomko hit a one-hander with the shot clock winding down to make it 79-58 in the final 90 seconds.
By then, Peterson was well on his way to his first coaching victory over Wake Forest. The former North Carolina player, executive with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats and coach at Tulsa, Tennessee and Coastal Carolina arrived in Wilmington this offseason after one year at Appalachian State and improved his record to 3-8 against ACC teams.
Meanwhile, for Bzdelik — who came to Wake Forest in the spring after three seasons at Colorado — this was a clear step back after his young team showed noticeable improvement during a winning streak that included a last-second victory over Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Wake Forest was playing for the second time in the Greensboro Coliseum, where the ACC tournament will be held in a few months, and UNCW's first visit since its last NCAA tournament appearance, an overtime loss to George Washington in the first round in 2006. It also was the third game of a four-game series between the schools, with Wake Forest winning the previous two by an average of 21½ points.
At least the Demon Deacons' bench was a little deeper for this one: Forward Nikita Mescheriakov, who transferred from Georgetown, became eligible once Wake Forest's fall semester concluded, and freshman forward Melvin Tabb returned following a 2½-week leave of absence to focus on his academics. Mescheriakov finished with seven points in 18 minutes.