ATLANTA, Ga. (WSPA/Wofford Athletics) – Senior guard Tray Hollowell netted a career-high 21 points to pace the Terriers, but the Bulls survived with a 58-56 victory in the first game of the Pit Boss Grills Holiday Hoopsgiving at the State Farm Arena on Saturday afternoon.
It was a back and forth game with ten lead changes throughout the contest and Wofford had two chances to tie with 19 seconds left, but USF held off the Terriers to drop their overall record to 2-2 on the year.
“We still have to learn how to play a lot smarter in stretches,” said Head Coach Jay McAuley. “That starts with me, I told those guys that. We played hard enough to win, we just didn’t play smart enough in pockets.”
Hollowell’s career-best effort included four made threes to go along with five rebounds and three assists on the day. Senior Storm Murphy stuffed the stat sheet with a solid performance, recording 17 points and three 3-pointers of his own, a career-high eight rebounds and season-high six assists in 38 minutes of action. Sophomore B.J. Mack finished with nine points and four rebounds against his former team.
Hollowell would get things started for the Terriers to open the game, knocking down back-to-back threes to open a 6-2 lead. A Sam Godwin block that led to a Mack tip-in finish on the other end would then spark a 9-2 run, that saw a pair of scores from Murphy and Hollowell each, to force a USF timeout up 16-10 just under the midway point. Wofford got out in transition and had held USF scoreless for six minutes before a 9-0 Bulls run reclaimed the lead for USF by the 6:03 mark, 19-16. Mack nailed a triple to knot the score up, as Murphy then spotted Hollowell for his third three of the half to reclaim the lead, 22-21, before a pair of turnovers would allow USF to take a 25-24 lead into the intermission.
The Terriers forced 13 USF turnovers for 13 points in return in the first half. Hollowell’s 11 first-half points paced Wofford, as the team connected on just 9-of-30 shots from the field (30%) and 5-of-22 from beyond the arc (22.7%).
The Bulls used a 7-0 run coming out the intermission to hold a 32-30 lead four minutes into the second half. Wofford would use a 6-point swing, highlighted by a pair of treys from B.J. Mack and Hollowell, to spark a 12-2 run over a two-minute span that allowed for the Terriers’ largest lead of the contest, 42-34, by the 14:56 mark. USF scored five unanswered before junior Ryan Larson then nailed a three in his first appearance of the season to extend a six-point lead (45-39). Another 9-0 Bulls run changed the lead for the fourth time in the final 20 minutes, as a Hollowell jumper and five-point spurt from Storm Murphy tied the game up at 52-52 with 5:11 left. After a five-minute span, the Bulls would take the final lead of the game on a series of offensive tip-ins with 19 seconds left, 58-56. Wofford would find a stepback 3-point look for Tray Hollowell with six seconds left on the ensuing possession, though, the shot fell off the mark. A missed free throw opportunity for USF allowed Wofford the ball with 1.2 seconds left, however, the Bulls would end the contest intercepting a full-court inbound heave to come away with the win at the buzzer.
Despite the loss, Wofford held the Bulls 15 points below its scoring average (73.8) and to its lowest scoring total achieved all season. The Terriers forced USF’s highest single-game turnover count for the season (18), though, USF forced 16 Wofford turnovers for 28 points in return. Additionally, the Bulls won the rebound battle over Wofford, 40-37, while also tallying 28 points inside the paint on the day.
Wofford finished the contest shooting 33.9 percent from the floor (20-59) and 25.6 percent from beyond the arc (10-39). The Bulls were led by David Collins (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Alexis Yetna (11 points, four rebounds) and finished shooting 42.4 percent from the floor (25-59) and were 23.5 percent from deep range (4-17).
“16 turnovers is not going to get it done versus that good group that’s a good defensive group,” added McAuley. “Down the stretch, some sloppy execution and some things that we could’ve done differently. These are all things that we’ve got to learn and we’ve got to own and move on quickly. The quicker we do that as a group, the better we’re going to be.”
Wofford (2-2) is back in action on Tuesday, December 15, when they welcome Coastal Carolina to the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium for a 6 p.m. tip.