SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Sophomores Max Klesmit and Sam Godwin led the Terriers with a pair of 22 and 17-point efforts, respectively, as the Wofford men’s basketball team fell in a physical, hard-fought matchup to Chattanooga (12-3, 2-0 SoCon) at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night, 75-67. Trailing by one possession with 10 minutes left, the Mocs managed to maintain a cushion for the remainder and hold off the Terriers with leads as large as 10 points through the final minutes to gut out the win. Junior forward B.J. Mack also finished in double figures, as the Terriers drop to 0-2 in the Southern Conference and 8-6 overall.
“They made the plays,” said head coach Jay McAuley of the Mocs down the stretch. “They made the plays, they were tougher at the end of the day. 7-for-12 threes in the second half were back-breakers … Lots of missed assignments late and they took advantage of those moments and we obviously didn’t, shooting 2-for-9 [from 3-point range] in those moments.”
“Proud of our team. We won the points in the paint, we won rebounding,” added McAuley of Wofford’s efforts. “This team [Chattanooga] outrebounded ETSU by 21 the other night and to see our guys scrap and claw, I was really proud of that stuff right … But we can’t get discouraged in moments and fall asleep in critical moments when you’ve got good players on that other bench that’re going to capitalize and I thought that was the difference.”
Wofford finished 46.6 percent from the field (27-of-58) and 30 percent from beyond the arc (6-for-20), while also finishing plus-11 on the boards for the contest (34-23) with 18 second-chance points.
Turnovers plagued the Terriers for a second consecutive contest, however, recording just seven assists to 15 turnovers on the night.
Klesmit returned to action on Wednesday night with his fourth 20-point performance of the season, finishing 8-of-15 from the floor for 22 points, including a trio of 3-pointers and 3-of-4 from the line. The sophomore matched a season-best five rebounds, while dishing a team-high three assists in 37 minutes.
Classmate Sam Godwin matched a season and career-high with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including a pair of electrifying dunks, five rebounds and a block.
Marking his sixth game in double figures, Godwin has finished above .500 in each game he’s scored in double digits this season – leading the team at 70.3 percent from the field (45-for-64).
Junior B.J. Mack finished with 10 points, his 11th game in double figures this season, and three rebounds, while sophomore guard Morgan Safford added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds in 35 minutes. Senior Ryan Larson contributed seven points, five rebounds and two assists and steals apiece, while freshman guard Corey Tripp added three points and a career-best five rebounds.
Chattanooga was led by Malachi Smith’s 24 points and five rebounds, along with 17 from David Jean-Baptist and 12 from Darius Banks, as the Mocs shot 54.2 percent and 58.3 percent from deep in the second half, including hitting 10-of-14 from the line down the stretch (71.4%) to secure the win.
The Terriers got off to a slow start missing their first five attempts from the floor while Chattanooga would erupt for 13 of the opening 18 points en route to a 22-15 lead after a B.J. Mack layup at the under-12 media timeout (10:00).
Out of the break, Godwin scored Wofford’s next five points (22-20) prior to Mack nailing a big three from the top of the key to claim the lead, 23-22. Klesmit would then finish a fast break layup to cap a 12-0 Terriers run and head into the under-four media timeout with a 25-22 edge (3:54).
Klesmit would go on to find Corey Tripp for a corner three for Wofford’s largest lead of the contest, 30-23, though, the Mocs would quickly erase the deficit, capitalizing on six-straight Wofford turnovers for a 9-0 run to close out the final 2:26 of the first and reclaim a 32-30 advantage at the intermission.
Chattanooga pushed a seven-point margin through the opening possessions of the second (37-30) as Sam Godwin came alive, postering a Mocs defender on an and-one transition dunk down the lane prior to a block on the other end and consecutive dunk underneath the following possession (37-35). The Mocs responded with a 42-35 cushion, though, four points from Morgan Safford and a Klesmit finish brought the game within one by the 12:37 mark, 42-41.
The Terriers brought the margin within one possession on the following trips down the floor (47-44), though, the Mocs continued to find timely scores to hold a 57-49 lead by the under-eight media timeout (6:08). Wofford scored seven of the next 11 points, behind five points from Klesmit and a Godwin layup, to trail 59-56, however, the Mocs didn’t waiver, as Chattanooga’s Smith, Jean-Baptist and Banks paced the visitors each time they needed a score to push eight to 10-point spreads within the final minute, 73-63, before ultimately coming away with the 75-67 win at the buzzer.
The Mocs finished the contest 25-for-52 from the field (48.1%), while hitting 12-of-27 from beyond the arc for the night (44.4%) and 13-of-18 from the charity stripe (72.2%).
Wofford (8-6, 0-2 SoCon) travels to Johnson City, Tenn., for its next contest, preparing to face ETSU (9-6, 1-1 SoCon) at Freedom Hall on Saturday, Feb. 8, for a 4 p.m. matchup.