CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Wofford SID) – The Wofford men’s basketball team visited Western Carolina on Saturday night, falling to the Catamounts 81-72.
Nathan Hoover led the way with 20 points for the Terriers, going 10-for-10 from the free-throw line, while Storm Murphy totaled 19 and Tray Hollowell scored 12 points in the loss. Western Carolina, who went 9-for-17 from 3-point range in the first half, hit just two in the second while the Terriers shot 41.0 percent from the field for the game.
“They came out hitting on all cylinders,” McAuley said of Western Carolina. “When you make nine threes in the first half against our defense, it’s probably a good depiction of our defense not being as active as it needs to be and it wasn’t until the second half that I thought our guys played their guts out and when you play a team like this, it was just a little too late at that point.”
With the loss, Wofford drops to 13-8 overall and 5-3 in SoCon play, with Western Carolina improving to 13-6 and 5-3 in league play. The Terriers will remain on the road, traveling to The Citadel to face the Bulldogs on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Murphy got things going with a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper before a Hoover layup gave Wofford its first lead of the game (9-8). The teams would go back and forth before Western Carolina took a 25-18 lead after a pair of Onno Steger treys.
Murphy knocked down another three to cut the deficit to just one, but the Catamounts connected on back-to-back trips down the floor to jump ahead 32-25. Murphy continued to get to the rim, but Western Carolina would answer each time down, going into the break ahead 45-34.
Trailing 50-40 early in the second, the Terriers would go on a 12-5 run and cut the deficit to three near the midway point of the half. After a timeout, the Catamounts scored 10 of the next 12 to push the lead back to 11.
“They came to play tonight and had some good moments,” McAuley said of Hoover and Murphy. “I wish we got off to a little bit better start with those guys but credit to them I thought they really played their guts out, especially in the second half.”
With seven minutes left, Hoover and Hollowell both got to the rim and Messiah Jones scored down low as Wofford pulled to within six points. Mason Faulkner looked to close the game out, hitting a three and jumper to give the Catamounts an 11-point advantage.
The Terriers would not go down easily, with Stumpe, Murphy, Jones and Hoover converting to make the score 76-72 with just under a minute to play, but Western Carolina would ice the game at the line, ultimately taking the contest by nine.
“Yea I thought we missed some shots and I thought it affected our defense in the first half,” McAuley said. “Whenever we stick with the gameplan and guys share the ball, you could tell we were getting inside out. We fought and clawed back, and it wasn’t enough at the end of the day, but we’ll learn from it.”