Postseason basketball brings out the best in Wake Forest's Coron Williams.
He scored a season-high 25 points and the Demon Deacons beat Notre Dame 81-69 on Wednesday in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
Williams — a transfer from Robert Morris who holds the Northeast Conference tournament record with eight 3s in a game — hit four in this one for 12th-seeded Wake Forest (17-15).
"Desperation. One and done," Williams said. "If you don't come out here and play your hardest, you could be done for the year. ... There's a focus about it for me."
The Demon Deacons shot a season-best 61 percent, built a 33-23 rebounding advantage and earned their first ACC tournament win since 2007 — when the late Skip Prosser was their coach.
"We just wanted to break the streak, not only for this team but for Wake Forest," said Travis McKie, the team's only fourth-year senior on scholarship. "We haven't done it in a long time, and we want to continue rolling."
Devin Thomas added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest, which will play fifth-seeded Pittsburgh (23-8) today in the second round.
Pat Connaughton scored 19 points for the 13th-seeded Fighting Irish (15-17), whose first trip to the ACC tournament was a short one.
The league newcomers shot 40 percent and had won at least one game in their previous five Big East tournaments.
"In a tournament setting, and for us, given that this is our first experience down here in this thing, we need to get off to a better start to believe that we can win a game here," coach Mike Brey said.
Zach Auguste added 14 points, Eric Atkins had 13 and Garrick Sherman finished with 12 for the Irish, who briefly made things tense in the final moments when Atkins spun in a 3-pointer to make it 68-62 with 2:10 left.
Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre then missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:55 to play, but teammate Arnaud William Adala Moto grabbed the offensive rebound — one of two missed free throws he rebounded in the final 2 minutes — and Williams then hit two free throws with 1:52 to go.
Senior Travis McKie and Adala Moto each hit two foul shots, the last of which pushed the lead back to double figures at 74-64 with 1:22 remaining.
Notre Dame didn't get closer than eight the rest of the way.
"The answer has been really what's plagued us most of the year — we just haven't been able to get stops," Brey said. "They made timely baskets."
DePaul 60, Georgetown 56: Billy Garrett Jr. scored 17 points, including the clinching free throws, and DePaul surprised Georgetown for only its second Big East tournament victory.
Forrest Robinson snapped a second-half tie with consecutive 3-pointers and had 14 points for the 10th-seeded Blue Demons (12-20), who finished in last place during the regular season. After ending a 14-game losing streak to the Hoyas, DePaul will play Thursday night in the quarterfinals against second-seeded Creighton, ranked No. 14 in the nation.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 21 points to pace the seventh-seeded Hoyas (17-14), who were hoping a run to the championship game at Madison Square Garden could still squeeze them into the NCAA tournament after a disappointing season.
Those dreams were dashed with Georgetown's first loss to DePaul since January 1994.
Eastern Michigan 53, Northern Illinois 48: Karrington Ward scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Eastern Michigan defeated Northern Illinois in a Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinal.
The victory over seventh-seeded Northern Illinois sends the No. 6 seed Eagles (20-13) into a semifinal game today with No. 3 seed Buffalo (19-9), winner of the MAC East.
Northern Illinois had a 35-24 advantage at the break, but the Huskies stalled after halftime, scoring just nine points in the first 14 minutes of the second period and opening the door to a 13-3 Eastern Michigan run that put the Eagles on top, 44-42, with 7:57 to play. Glenn Bryant made a tip-shot with 1:18 remaining and Ward and Daylen Harrison combined for 4 of 4 from the line in the final seconds to keep the Eagles on top.
Jordan Threloff and Aaric Armstead had nine points each for the Huskies (15-17).
Seton Hall 51, Butler 50: Eugene Teague had 14 points, 11 rebounds and scored all of Seton Hall's points over the final 9:30 as the Pirates prevailed in a battle of second-half runs for a victory over Butler in the opening round of the Big East tournament.
The eighth-seeded Pirates (16-16) gets top-seeded and third-ranked Villanova in the quarterfinals today.
Seton Hall used an 11-0 run to take a 38-26 lead over the ninth-seeded Bulldogs (14-17) with 12:53 to play. Butler came up empty on nine straight possessions in the run and the Pirates extended their lead to 45-32 on a 3-pointer by Brian Oliver with 9:46 to go.
Khyle Marshall, who led Butler with 22 points, started scoring inside and the Bulldogs took advantage of some cold shooting by Seton Hall to go an 14-3 run that made it 48-46 with 4:44 to go. Marshall dunked with 1:50 to go and Kellen Dunham dunked after a steal with 47 seconds left to bring Butler to 51-50.
Brandon Mobley missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 4.3 seconds left and Butler had a last chance to win but Barlow's shot from just inside midcourt hit the backboard.