Wofford men edge UNCG, 48-45

College Basketball (NCAAM)

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WOFFORD ATHLETICS/WSPA) – Despite a rough shooting night for both squads, the Wofford men’s basketball team came away with a gritty 48-45 win over the UNCG Spartans at the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday evening.

With the win Wofford improves to 6-4 (3-1) on the season.

“Was certainly really proud of how we fought through some silly mistakes, but we were the tougher team,” said head coach Jay McAuley of the win. “We were not the tougher team the other night. We were the tougher team today. Fought through some things … came up with some man rebounds. Obviously, we missed Messiah Jones quite a bit, but it was a collective effort to get the job done.”

Three Terriers finished in double figures led by Storm Murphy with 18 points, hitting 4-of-10 from deep (40%), and three rebounds in 37 minutes, followed by freshman Max Klesmit with 10 points, on 2-of-6 shooting from deep (33.3%), and two rebounds in a season-high 29 minutes.

Freshman Sam Godwin nearly recorded a double-double in his first career start, notching 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor and nine rebounds. Six of Godwin’s nine rebounds came on the offensive end, as Godwin ranked third in the SoCon for offensive rebounds per game (2.7) heading into the contest.

“Sam Godwin was one rebound away from a double-double and that guy just continue to makes hustle plays,” added McAuley of Godwin’s contributions. “He’s going to be a stud for us as long as he just keeps that confidence growing and working and being about the right things.”

Wofford managed to add their third SoCon win of the season despite hitting only 16-of-54 from the floor (29.6%) and 7-of-27 (25.9%) from 3-point range. The Terriers made up for it at the charity stripe, however, hitting 9-of-11 for a season-high 81.1 percent from the free throw line.

The last time Wofford won a SoCon contest scoring under 50 points was on January 31, 2015, when the Terriers defeated Mercer, 49-46, at the Benjamin Johnson Arena.

Neither team was able to get in much of an offensive flow in the first half, as both teams were active on the defensive end to combine for 31 first-half points.

Morgan Safford opened the scoring for the Terriers to start, knocking down a pull-up jumper on Wofford’s first possession prior to hitting two free throws to hold a 4-2 lead early on. The Spartans continued to use their pressure to speed up the Terriers, finding five points off nine Wofford turnovers in the half, as an UNCG 9-0 spurt gave them the lead, 9-4, with 9:33 left.

A pair of offensive rebounds by Sam Godwin then produced a second-chance knockdown three for Storm Murphy, though, UNCG’s Isaiah Miller answered with a jumper of his own to make the score 11-7 at the 5:40 mark. Scoreless over the ensuing three minutes, the Spartans broke the dry spell with a 5-0 spurt to extend the lead to 16-11, though, Wofford found itself in the bonus early, as free throws from Murphy and a B.J. Mack three reeled the margin back to one possession, 16-14, with 36 seconds left. Ryan Larson would then draw a last-second foul, hitting a free throw to send the Terriers into the intermission down by one.

Wofford held the Spartans to 26.9 percent from the floor (7-26), though, UNCG was able to corral 10 points inside the paint while a pair of threes gave them the 16-15 edge at halftime.

Murphy paced the Terriers to start the second half, scoring seven of his 13 second-half points, to take a 22-18 lead through the first three minutes of play. A sequence of threes from Murphy and Max Klesmit (2) then ensued before Godwin free throws and another Murphy trey gave the Terriers its largest lead of the contest at 37-26 with 10:29 to play.

Ryan Larson would hit a pull-up jumper to break a three-minute scoring drought, though, the Spartans rallied to knot the score up at 38-38 by the 5:19 mark. A 3-pointer from UNCG’s Kaleb Hunter reclaimed the lead, 41-40, though consecutive scores from Sam Godwin, on a dunk feed from Ryan Larson and a second-chance finish off a missed Larson layup, then reclaimed a one-point advantage for the Terriers, 44-43 (1:28).

After getting a big defensive stop with under a minute to play, Max Klesmit would hit a pair of big free throws after drawing a foul UNCG’s Hayden Koval to push the margin to 46-43. The Spartans found the answer, however, as Isaiah Miller then scored on the next possession to cut the lead to one again, 46-45, with 33 seconds left.

With the Spartans looking to get a stop for a last-shot opportunity, Sam Godwin found himself in the right place at the right time, corralling a huge offensive rebound for a critical finish under the rim on a deep Storm Murphy 3-point heave to extend the margin back to three points, 48-45, with just eight seconds left. On the next possession, the Spartans would get a three off that fell off the mark to see the Terriers storm the court for the big conference victory at the buzzer.

Timely second-chance points proved to be key for the Terriers throughout the contest, recording 11 points off 10 offensive rebounds on the night.

Wofford held the Spartans to 34.5 percent from the field (20-58) and just 14.8 percent from beyond the arc, though, UNCG outrebounded the Terriers 41-35 for the contest, while recording 30 of its 45 points inside the paint.

Next, Wofford is scheduled to travel to Lexington, Va. for a 7 p.m. contest at VMI on Wednesday, January 13.

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