ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Wofford SID) – On Sunday night in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament at U.S. Cellular Center, the Wofford men’s basketball team defeated Georgia Southern 71-57. The Terriers used a 16-2 run early in the first half to build a lead they would not relinquish.
Wofford advances to take on fifth-seeded Western Carolina in the Southern Conference Championship game Monday night at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The Terriers are improved to 19-12 and Georgia Southern ended its season 15-19 overall. The Terriers were led by Lee Skinner, who completed a double-double with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds. All five Wofford starters scored in double figures, including Karl Cochran (14), Eric Garcia (12), Spencer Collins (11) and C.J. Nuemann (10). The Eagles were led by Tre Bussey and Brian Holmes with 14 points each.
“I am proud of our team and really excited about coming over here tomorrow night and representing our College and our program one more night for the coolest experience in the world which is to advance to the NCAA Tournament,” said Wofford head coach Mike Young. “We have a full plate ahead of us with Western Carolina, a team that is playing every bit as well as we are”
The Eagles scored first, but two buckets by C.J. Neumann had the game tied at four after two minutes of play. A lay-up by Spencer Collins and a tip-in by Karl Cochran gave the Terriers an 8-4 lead with 16:21 on the clock. After taking an 11-4 advantage, the Eagles made a pair of free throws to end a 9-0 run. John Swinton made two of three free throws for a 13-6 lead at the 13:02 mark. Eric Garcia added a three pointer and a huge dunk by Justin Gordon made it an 18-6 score at the 11:42 mark.
C.J. Neumann tipped in a shot and Eric Garcia buried a three pointer to give the Terriers a 23-8 lead with 9:40 left in the first half. The Eagles answered with the next four points, but Karl Cochran hit a pair of buckets for a 27-12 lead with 6:37 on the clock. Neither team scored for the next three minutes until Georgia Southern scored four straight to make it a 27-16 game with 3:29 remaining. Lee Skinner had a lay-up matched by free throws by the Eagles for a 30-18 game with a minute left. After a bucket by the Eagles, Karl Cochran hit a long three pointer at the buzzer for a 33-20 lead at the break.
Lee Skinner scored the first four points and Spencer Collins added a lay-up for a 39-20 lead three minutes into the second half. The Eagles got on the board with a bucket and free throw at the 16:49 mark, but Wofford answered with a jumper by Lee Skinner for a 41-23 advantage. Georgia Southern scored five straight, including their first three pointer of the night, but Wofford answered with a three by Spencer Collins for a 44-28 lead with 13:51 on the clock.
A three pointer by Eric Garcia made it a 48-30 lead for Wofford with 12:50 left in the second half. Justin Gordon made a free throw, missed the second, but C.J. Neumann got the rebound and lay-up for a 51-30 score. Spencer Collins added a fast break lay-up to make it 53-30 at the midpoint of the second half. Eric Garcia hit a lay-up and the bonus for a 56-34 score, but the Eagles answered with a three pointer.
John Swinton made a contested lay-up in the lane to give Wofford a 58-37 advantage with 7:36 left in the second half. The Eagles chipped away at the lead and made it a 62-48 score at the four minute mark. Karl Cochran hit a deep three pointer at the end of the shot clock to give Wofford a 67-50 lead with 1:37 on the clock.
Wofford shot 49.1% from the floor and Georgia Southern was 36.8% overall. The Terriers were 6-of-18 from with three, while the Eagles were 4-of-16 from behind the arc. Georgia Southern was 11-of-14 from the line, while Wofford was 11-of-21 on free throws. Wofford had a 39-33 lead on the boards, and had only six turnovers to 11 assists.
Wofford will face #5 seed Western Carolina at 9:00 p.m. in the championship game. The Catamounts defeated #1 seed Davidson 99-97 in overtime to advance. The title game will air on ESPN2 and determine the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.