November 13, 2001 at 5:03 AM EST - Updated July 10 at 7:46 PM
Darius Delivers For Deacs In 79-78 Win Over NC-Wilmington
Songaila makes a layup with 2.7 seconds left to give men's basketball a victory for new coach Skip Prosser.
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With Monday's victory, Wake Forest has won its eighth straight season opener.
Nov 12, 2001
By DAVID DROSCHAK AP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Darius Songaila made a layup with 2.7 seconds left as Skip Prosser won his Wake Forest coaching debut with a 79-78 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington in the first round of the Preseason NIT on Monday night.
Wake Forest won its eighth straight season opener, while the Seahawks dropped their seventh in a row and fell to 1-22 all-time against schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But UNC-W didn't go quietly as former Wake Forest assistant Jerry Wainwright threw a scare into a senior-dominated team from the ACC.
The Demon Deacons led by as many as 13 in the second half and by 11 with 10:47 left before the Seahawks went on a 29-14 run as Brett Blizzard scored 13 of his 26 points for a 78-74 lead.
Craig Dawson, who scored 23 points, made a 3-pointer to pull the Demon Deacons within one with 47.4 seconds left.
Then the Seahawks couldn't close the deal. Stewart Hare missed a shot, and after a steal, Ed Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one with 8.4 seconds remaining to set up the final drama.
Williams had 19 points, but was just a 55 percent free-throw shooter last year.
After a timeout from each bench, Ervin Murray couldn't get the ball inbounds in the front court, so he lobbed it toward the basket where the 6-foot-9 Songaila grabbed it and layed it in.
Dawson, who started just eight games under former coach Dave Odom last year, had seven at the half. But the senior hit a pair of 3-pointers, a layup and two free throws in the first 9:13 of the second period as Wake Forest went up 60-49 before the comeback.
Prosser, who won 20 or more games six times in seven years at Xavier, replaced Odom, who left for South Carolina after posting 240 wins and two ACC titles in 12 seasons here.
Prosser needed some points from his role players since the team's leading scorers from last season - Josh Howard and Songaila - each battled foul problems.
The Seahawks lost the game despite shooting 53 percent, making 9-of-13 3-pointers and forcing 19 turnovers.