SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson and Wake Forest’s Josh Collins waged an epic battle Tuesday night, but it was Colson and the Irish who came out on top.
The forwards battled on both ends of the floor, but Colson’s 27 points and 16 rebounds helped the Irish snap a four-game losing streak with an 88-81 win, Notre Dame’s first since Jan. 15.
“It’s been awhile,” Colson said. “That’s a good feeling.”
Despite giving up five inches to Collins, Colson grabbed 11 rebounds in the second half and recorded his 15th double-double of the season. He also set a career high with five blocked shots and knocked down two second-half 3-pointers to spark an Irish comeback from nine points down.
“Unbelievable what he does only being (6-foot-5),” said Irish point guard Matt Farrell. “Against guys like that, and he’s got to do it every night, I honestly think it’s incredible what he does.”
Not to be outdone, Collins had 24 points and 14 rebounds to lead Wake Forest, his seventh straight 20-point game.
“He’s starting to understand how good he is,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said of Collins. “We thought this was one we had an opportunity to have some type of success, but we weren’t able to capitalize.”
V.J. Beachem had 19 points and a career-high four blocks (the Irish had 12 blocks total) and Steve Vasturia added 17 points and seven boards for Notre Dame (18-7, 7-5 ACC), which had lost five out of its last six and fell out of the Top 25 this week.
“We needed that, baby!” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey yelled as he entered the postgame interview room. “We haven’t won in a while, so it feels good to get a win.”
Bryant Crawford added 19 points and Keyshawn Woods had 16 for the Demon Deacons (14-10, 5-7). Collins’ run of 20-point games is the longest such streak in the ACC since North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren had 15 in a row in the 2013-14 season.
Wake Forest went up by nine after the Irish missed their first six shots of the second half, but consecutive 3-pointers by Beachem and Vasturia got them back within three.
Colson knocked down a 3 during a 10-2 Irish run four minutes later that gave them a 58-54 lead with 11:34 left.
Wake stayed close, but never led the rest of the way. Beachem, Vasturia and Farrell all hit 3s down the stretch at key moments to hold the Deacons off. Farrell finished with 16 points.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons failed to win consecutive ACC road games for the first time since 2008-09, and have now lost four straight to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame: On a short turnaround after their previous game at North Carolina was moved from Saturday to Sunday in Greensboro following a water crisis in Chapel Hill, the Irish managed to get back on track.
“I’m dead,” Brey said. “We used a lot of juice in Greensboro the other day.”
KEEP IT LOOSE
Looking to change things up, the Irish went to their alternate gold-and-green uniforms, which they wore during their run to the ACC tournament title in 2015, for the first time this season.
Brey also tried to keep it loose in practice for his players on Monday, but acknowledged it was just a facade.
“It was a total show,” Brey said. “I was tied up in knots inside, man, but I faked it like a son of a gun.”
FACES IN THE CROWD
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and his new defensive coordinator, Mike Elko, took in the game from the front row. Elko was hired away from Wake Forest in December.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons welcome in North Carolina State on Saturday.
Notre Dame: The Irish host No. 14 Florida State on Saturday.