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WSSU women's and men's basketball programs will travel across town to play Wake Forest in exhibition games

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Winston-Salem State women’s and men’s basketball teams won’t have to venture far for exhibition games as they will travel to Joel Coliseum to play Wake Forest.

The women’s game will be on Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. and the men’s exhibition will be on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. This is the second season in a row that Coach Cleo Hill Jr.’s team will go across town to play the Demon Deacons.

“Both programs have a rich history in athletics,” Hill said. “Anytime we can get together it’s a win-win for the community.”

Last season the two men’s programs met in an exhibition game and the Demon Deacons won 88-56 in front of 1,200 fans at Joel Coliseum.

WSSU Wake Forest basketball

Wake Forest guard Daivien Williamson drives to the basket against Winston-Salem State’s Isaac Parson in last years’ exhibition game at Joel Coliseum on Nov. 5. The two teams will meet again this year on Nov. 1 at Joel Coliseum.

During his summer news conference with journalists, coach Steve Forbes of the Demon Deacons said he liked the atmosphere surrounding the game.

“I have great respect for Coach Cleo Hill Jr. and what he has done at Winston-Salem State,” Forbes said in a statement. “He has built a championship program with a lot of success in recent years.”

Division II WSSU has three starters returning from a 19-10 season and has a recruiting class of five that includes N.C. State transfer Jaylen Gibson, a 6-foot-10 center. When Dixon was coming out of high school he committed to Wake Forest but after Danny Manning was fired he decided to go to N.C. State.

Etienne Thomas, the athletics director at WSSU and John Currie, the athletics director at Wake Forest, worked together in finding the right dates that would fit both schools.

“We are proud of our partnership with Winston-Salem State University as we look for ways to bring our community together,” Currie said.

Thomas said it makes sense to schedule with Wake Forest.

“John Currie and I have been very intentional with trying to bring our teams together across all sport programs as much as we can so this is just another example of bridging the dynamics of Winston-Salem and continuing to move both programs forward, but also to move forward as one city that we share,” Thomas said.

The Demon Deacons lead the all-time series 5-0. When WSSU was transitioning to Division I in the late 2000’s the two teams played four times and the Demon Deacons won them all.

In the women’s game it will mark the debut of Coach Megan Gebbia of Wake Forest, who took over for Jen Hoover after last season.

Coach L’Tona Lamonte of WSSU welcomes back an experienced team that includes Amaya Tucker, a Reagan graduate.

“I’m extremely excited for the players to get an opportunity to play against a local ACC team,” Lamonte said. “Taking the short ride across town for a game in the historic Lawrence Joel will be eye opening.”

Lamonte said her squad will get 15 practices in before playing in their opener against the Demon Deacons.

“The game is what we need in order to compete for a championship this season,” Lamonte said. “The toughness, height, speed, and agility of Wake will prepare us for our non-conference and conference games.”

The Demon Deacons’ women lead the all-time series 6-0. Their first meeting was at WSSU in 1979 and the Demon Deacons won 65-56. The other five games have been at Wake Forest with the last time the two met was in 2008 when Wake Forest won easily 76-38.

Gebbia said she’s excited about making her debut in the exhibition game.

“There is no better way to tip off our season than playing a school that helps represent our great Winston-Salem community,” Gebbia said. “This will be an exciting matchup not only for the two teams, but the entire city and surrounding area.”

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@johndellWSJ

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