Terriers top Western Carolina behind Murphy’s career-high performance


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Wofford Athletics) – Senior Storm Murphy poured in a new career-high of 28 points on Saturday afternoon to lift Wofford to a 91-78 victory over the Western Carolina Catamounts at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.

Wofford moves to 9-4 overall and a league-leading 6-1 mark in the Southern Conference after notching its fourth-consecutive win through conference play.

“They [WCU] will be a tough team to beat. Obviously they gave us fits, but credit to our guys,” said head coach Jay McAuley. “We only had six deflections in the first half. We were just really on our heels, give them credit for that. We had 25 [deflections] in the second and we were much better [defensively]. They gave us some problems but, sure enough, some different guys stepped up at different moments and that seems to be theme of this team this year, which is a sign of good things ahead.”

Murphy led all double-figure scorers for the Terriers with the career and season-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including hitting 4-for-10 from long distance (40%) and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. Murphy also added four assists in a team-high 38 minutes, as the performance marks the third consecutive contest the Middleton, Wisc. native has eclipsed the 20-point total.

“My coaches and my teammates, it’s a big credit to them,” said Murphy of the career-high. “They’re just always pouring confidence into me and giving me the freedom and trust to create for our team and, when I have the open looks, I’m not going to shy away from shooting those shots.”

“28 [points] is great but just really happy with a W though,” added Murphy. “Whatever it would’ve taken to win is all that matters. We’ve got a great team and just excited for the future.”

Classmate Tray Hollowell added a solid 18-point performance on 8-of-12 from the field, including two threes, as a majority of Hollowell’s points came from tough finishes inside the paint. The senior also grabbed three rebounds and dished two assists on the day.

“It’s been a big thing that we need him to do and continue to do is get in the paint and play off two feet and we saw the result of that,” said Storm Murphy of Hollowell’s impact. “He gets our team really good looks when he does that and when he’s aggressive and he’s such a good passer and finisher [in the paint].”

Freshman Morgan Safford continues his steady scoring presence through SoCon play, netting 15 points on 2-of-4 shots from beyond the arc (50%) and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. Safford also pulled down a team-high five rebounds to go with an assist and steal.

The Terriers saw additional contributions from freshman Sam Godwin and junior Ryan Larson each with eight points apiece on the day, while freshman Austin Patterson tallied a career-high six points in a season-high 17 minutes.

“Incredible work ethic these last two weeks,” added McAuley of Austin Patterson. “Has practiced well, has put in the time. He didn’t miss all day today in pre-game or in shoot around. We just mentioned that how much hard work pays off and he was all smiles and so were his teammates today. He was great.”

Sophomore B.J. Mack was also solid in his 13 minutes of actions with five points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Wofford shot an efficient 60.4 percent from the field for the contest (32-of-53), while hitting 13-of-29 from 3-point range (44.8%) and 14-of-16 from the free-throw line (87.5%).

The Terriers ranked ninth in the nation in 3-point field goals per game (10.9) heading into the contest, as Wofford has now recorded 10-plus made threes in nine games this season.

Wofford opened a 12-5 lead on a trio of scores from Safford, Hollowell and Mack before a 6-0 Catamounts run brought the score to 12-11 six minutes in. Wofford responded, as a sequence of layups from Hollowell, Safford and Storm Murphy extended seven-point spreads (21-14), though, Western Carolina was able to dominate inside the paint on a 13-5 run that claimed a 27-26 lead by the 7:38 mark.

A B.J. Mack three-ball reclaimed the lead, as the two teams went on to trade buckets to see a 39-38 margin in Wofford’s favor with 2:25 left in the frame. Murphy then converted at the line after getting fouled on a 3-pointer, followed by a trio of free throws from Safford over the ensuing minute and a half, as the Terriers headed into the intermission with a 45-42 advantage.

The Terriers came out the break firing on all cylinders, seeing three threes from Storm Murphy (2) and Ryan Larson, as Wofford would score 15 of the first 23 points in the half to extend a 60-51 lead at the 14:04 mark.

Just a minute later, Western Carolina’s Matt Halvorsen then drilled a three to spark a 6-point Catamounts spurt that brought the game to one possession, 62-60. The hosts didn’t waiver though, seeing a Murphy trey spark a 7-0 run that produced a 71-62 advantage by the 9:08 mark.

The lead grew to double-digits after threes from Austin Patterson and Tray Hollowell ensued, while Patterson would then splash his second three of the game to hold a 82-70 lead (4:38).

Wofford proceeded to put its foot on the gas, as a 7-0 stretch that saw a Sam Godwin finish, Hollowell 3-pointer and Murphy finish in the paint pushed the Terriers largest lead of the night at 89-73 with 1:35 to play. The Terriers would go on to wrap things up from the line to come away with the 91-78 victory at the horn.

An offensive onslaught for a majority of the game, Wofford managed to come away with the edge over Western Carolina on the boards for the contest, 24-23.

Wofford held the Catamounts to 46.9 percent in the second half (15-of-32) and just 4-of-13 from beyond the arc (30.8%) after allowing Western Carolina a 57.1-percent outing from the field in the first half. The Catamounts saw four reach double figures, led by Matt Halvorsen (19) and Cory Hightower (15).

Next, the Terriers travel to Charleston, S.C., for a mid-week SoCon matchup at The Citadel (8-4, 1-4 SoCon) on Wednesday, January 27.

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