WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - C.J. Harris scored 18 points and Wake Forest hit key free throws in the final minute to hold off Gardner-Webb 67-59 on Sunday.
Travis McKie added 15 points, Ty Walker finished with career highs of 12 points and nine rebounds and Chase Fischer had 11 points for the Demon Deacons (7-4), who built a double-digit lead in the second half after trailing by three points at the break.
Tashan Newsome had a career-high 24 points for the Runnin' Bulldogs (6-7), who shot just 36.8 percent (21 of 57) but still cut an 11-point Wake Forest lead down to 60-56 on Kevin Hartley's 3-pointer with 59 seconds remaining.
However, the Demon Deacons - whose biggest lead, 56-45, came on a McKie jumper with 7:20 remaining - hit 7 of 8 from the free throw line over the final 45 seconds to seal it.
Wake Forest opened the second half with a 12-2 run, capped by a Harris 3-pointer with 16:12 left, to take a 42-35 lead. The Demon Deacons then pushed that into double digits for the first time on a McKie jumper to go up 48-38 with 11:19 remaining.
After McKie put Wake Forest ahead 56-45, Newsome scored six of Gardner-Webb's next eight points to cut the Demon Deacons' lead to 56-53 with 3:53 remaining. But Walker hit a layup and Harris followed with a pair of free throws to push Wake Forest's lead back to seven points.
The Runnin' Bulldogs didn't play the first half like a team that had gone 0-for-14 against the Atlantic Coast Conference. Gardner-Webb swapped the lead with the Demon Deacons 13 times and took a 33-30 halftime lead on Jason Dawson's buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Despite shooting just 37.9 percent (11 of 29) in the half, the Runnin' Bulldogs hung with Wake Forest, even fighting back from a seven-point deficit midway through the period.
Fischer hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the last at the 9:47 mark, to put the Demon Deacons up 22-15. But Newsome scored seven of his 11 first-half points during a 12-4 run, with his jumper giving Gardner-Webb a 27-26 lead with 5:45 left.
Wake Forest would lead twice more in the half - at 28-27 on McKie's dunk with 4:35 left, and 30-29 on Harris' layup with 1:14 remaining.
But the Runnin' Bulldogs responded both times - Newsome hit two free throws with 3:18 left to put the Runnin' Bulldogs up 29-28, and Donta Harper's free throw with 48 seconds left tied the score at 30-30.