- Associated Press - Saturday, November 14, 2015

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Injuries and suspensions hit Wake Forest before Friday night’s season opener. Add foul trouble and poor defense and the Demon Deacons were in danger of a shocking upset to start coach Danny Manning’s second season. 

Then the big guys took over. 

Devin Thomas had 21 points and 17 rebounds, Dinos Mitoglou added 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Wake Forest relied on inside muscle to hold off hot-shooting Maryland-Baltimore County 78-73. 

“We didn’t shoot the ball well from 3, but we got second-chance points and rebounded the ball well,” Manning said. “Our bench came in and gave us 15 points. So we’ve got some things to build on, but we’ve definitely got to get better.”

The Retrievers, who went 4-26 last season, hit nine 3-pointers, led with under 7 minutes left, and got within 72-71 on Rodney Elliott’s steal and layup with 1:45 left. 

But Wake Forest hit enough free throws down the stretch and used a 59-36 rebounding edge to avoid the upset. 

“We don’t have our horses,” Thomas said. 

The Demon Deacons, who went 13-19 last season, had eight scholarship players available with top scorer Codi Miller-McIntyre recovering from a broken foot and Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson both serving suspensions. 

“We’ve got to play better defensively. We turned the ball over (16 times),” Thomas said. “It’s good for these guys to go through adversity right now.” 

Jourdan Grant matched a career-high with 20 points for UMBC (0-1), which missed 13 of 25 free throws. 

Elliott and Malcolm Brent added 13 points each and freshman Joe Sherburne scored 12 for UMBC in a game that included 48 fouls and 55 free throws.

UMBC started 9 of 20 from 3-point range, but missed its last five attempts. Daquon Ervin’s layup with 6:47 left tied it at 66. 

But Wake Forest had 24 offensive rebounds, 25 second-chance points and wore down the Retrievers inside despite shooting 39 percent from the field and 3 of 20 from 3-point range. 

“A lot of it attributes to their size,” UMBC coach Aki Thomas said. “They were bigger and stronger.”

TIP INS 

UMBC: Sherburne was 5 of 17 from the field in his college debut. . The Retrievers lost 71-34 to Virginia Tech in their last game against an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the 2009-10 season. . Sam Schweitez air-balled a free throw wide right late in the first half. 

Wake Forest: Freshman Bryant Crawford left late in the first half when he dislocated a finger. 

“He ran over to me and I told him he’ll be OK and take a deep breath,” Manning said. “He was like, ‘Coach, look at my finger.’ Crawford returned to play with a bandage in the second half and had nine points and five rebounds. . Greg McClinton (6 points, 5 rebounds) fouled out in 20 minutes. 

FOULED-UP RETURN 

Elliott, the 2013-14 America East rookie of the year, was held to 22 foul-plagued minutes in his first game since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in last year’s opener. He hit 3 of 6 3-pointers. 

CALLING IT TIGHT

Teams have been told officials will be calling games tighter, and the game started with consecutive offensive foul calls. UMBC was called for 27 fouls. 

“The two-hands were absolute calls,” Thomas said. “Even on rebounding situations where guys were underneath guys and you had to call it absolutely. A year or two ago that wouldn’t really be enforced. It’s hard.” 

UP NEXT

UMBC: Monday at St. John’s. 

Wake Forest: Sunday afternoon at Bucknell provides a quick turnaround. “I told the guys they’re NBA players for the next three or four days - without the money,” Manning said. 

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