Wake Forest enjoyed three luxuries on Wednesday night that South Carolina State would surely give anything to have themselves.
The Demon Deacons were playing at home, something the Bulldogs haven't done yet in the regular season. Wake Forest climbed to 5-1, taking a 105-74 victory over their winless opponents, and they'll be playing at home again on Saturday while S.C. State will be on another bus for another road game.
"We took care of business, extended the lead there at halftime," Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. "But the game got a little ragged. They made some shots that they didn't make in the first half, and so, we'll take it and go."
In the early minutes, S.C. State was within striking distance of the Demon Deacons. Had they been more efficient in their 3-point shooting, the Bulldogs might have made a contest of it in the first half. Instead, they only hit one of the 14 shots they tried from 3-point range. That's 7%, and it helped dig an early hole that only got deeper.
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Wake Forest hit six of its 11 3-point tries and shot 53% overall for the half. That was the extra dirt for that hole that the Bulldogs never climbed out of.
Cam Hildreth created most of the suffering. He hit five of his six shots and closed the first half with 13 points. His two free throws at 4:46 gave Wake Forest a 34-18 lead that grew to 51-27 at the break. Hildreth led Wake Forest with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. That's despite opening the night with an air ball on a 3-point try, then recovering to hit the next one.
"I've been working on my shot a lot this summer," Hildreth said. "I'm confident in my jump shot, and if I'm open, I'm going to shoot it. So, I shot with confidence and it was good."
And then came Ty Appleby, who quietly added 13 points by hitting three of four 3-point field goals, and added nine assists. In all, six players scored in double figures. Dama Monsanto had 16, Bobi Klintman had 15 and 10 rebounds, and Jao Ituka and Matthew Marsh had 10 apiece.
The Demon Deacons were without Daivien Williamson, who reportedly has a back injury.
S.C. State had to scramble just to put a team on the court this season. Head coach Erik Martin, an assistant for 16 years to Bob Huggins at West Virginia, was hired to lead the Bulldogs in July, a time of year when most programs are on the cusp of preparing for the start of practice.
When Martin arrived in Orangeburg, he only had six players on his roster, forcing him to go out and find eight more players. To cap it off, the Bulldogs are in the midst of an 11-game road trip to start the season; Wake Forest is the sixth game in the run, and their first home game comes on. Dec. 13 against UNC Asheville.
S.C. State's offense picked up in the second half, but it only managed to cut the deficit to 17. Wake Forest would lead by as much as 33 in the final minutes.
Lesown Hallums scored 14 for the Bulldogs, Jordan Simpson had 13 and four other players got 10. They went 4-for-24 from 3-point range and shot 39 percent for the game.
Wake Forest has a Saturday matinee against Hampton.