Wofford wins at Georgia 68-65

College Basketball (NCAAM)

Wofford Basketball

ATHENS, Ga. (Wofford College) – The Wofford men’s basketball team downed Georgia (2-5) 68-65 at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday evening, marking its first SEC victory since 2018 and head coach Jay McAuley’s first win over an SEC opponent in a homecoming matchup at his alma mater in Athens, Ga. The Terriers move to 5-2 overall, as sophomore Max Klesmit led four Terriers in double figures with 17 points, followed by junior B.J. Mack with 16 points. 

The win marks the second all-time over Georgia, last defeating the Bulldogs on Nov. 17, 2009, 60-57, in Athens, Ga.

Additionally, the Terriers become the fourth team in the Southern Conference this season to pick up a nonconference win over a Power-5 opponent.

“What a team effort that was. We just gutted one out,” said head coach Jay McAuley of the win over the Bulldogs. “We didn’t see a lot of balls go through, but we defended well enough and rebounded finally as a unit I thought to extend the lead. And how good was Max Klesmit in the second half? I thought our posts carried us in the first half and then Max really opened things up in the second.”

Klesmit recorded 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, including a career-best 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, marking his fifth double-figure performance this season.

“We just preached staying together through the thick and thin moments, whether we’re up, whether we’re down, whether the other team goes a little bit on a run,” said Klesmit of the team’s message to one another throughout the contest. “Stay together and focus on what we’ve got to do and follow through with the game plan that we trust.”

B.J. Mack tallied 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including a 3-pointer and three free throws, four rebounds and two assists, followed by senior Ryan Larson with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep and three rebounds and assists apiece.

Sophomore forward Sam Godwin rounds out the Terriers in double digits with 10 points on 5-of-6 from the floor and two rebounds. Freshman Austin Patterson added six points and three rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench, while junior Isaiah Bigelow pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to couple with a 3-pointer and three assists.

“We just got to have that next man up mentality and have guys ready to go coming off the bench,” added Klesmit of the team’s collective effort. “I thought our bench play was amazing tonight. Everyone was locked in focused on the game plan and, ultimately, that’s what got us through this one.”

“That’s what we work on in practice is feeding off each other’s energy. We’ve got guys coming to spark us and give us a little bit of energy on the defensive end because that’s only going to help our offensive end too,” added Klesmit of the team’s infectious energy defensively. “We preach defense to offense. Getting a few kills, three stops in a row, really energizes us for sure.”

The Terriers led for 23:11 of the contest, though, shooting just 39 percent from the field (23-of-59) and hitting 7-of-29 attempts from 3-point range (24.1%). However, Wofford connected on 15-of-17 free throws throughout the game, finishing 88.2 percent from the charity stripe to support the rough shooting night.

Additionally, Wofford forced 19 turnovers on the Bulldogs, accounting for 22 points in return throughout the contest.

Georgia was led by Jabri Abdur-Rahim with 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting and four rebounds, followed by Jailyn Ingram (13) and Aaron Cook (10).

Isaiah Bigelow drilled a 3-pointer to open things up in Athens, as the Bulldogs connected on its first three attempts from the field to hold a 9-3 lead early on. Klesmit went on to finish a spinning layup in the paint, as the score would spark a 10-0 run for the Terriers, holding a 13-9 lead by the 11:51 mark of the half.

Shortly after Klesmit’s finish, Morgan Safford denied a Georgia dunk attempt on the defensive end that would go on to set up a Ryan Larson 3-pointer off a baseline out-of-bounds play, bringing the margin within one, 9-8. Safford would find position for a tip-in off a missed Klesmit trey, as Luke Turner then gave Wofford its first lead of the day after cashing a corner three to hold the lead at the under-12 media timeout.

Georgia would knot the score up at 15-all prior to B.J. Mack scoring Wofford’s next five points on a tough turnaround jumper in the paint and 3-pointer from the top of the key, though, the Bulldogs deadlocked the spread at 18-18 with 6:54 to play. Both squads exchanged buckets, as Austin Patterson would covert an and-one 3-pointer at the line, along with a pair of Sam Godwin buckets in the paint to hold a 26-24 lead at the under-4 media. Patterson, Mack and Godwin continued to pace the Terriers with a 32-30 advantage, though, Georgia’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim connected on back-to-back treys over the final minute to hand the Bulldogs a 33-32 edge at the intermission.

Wofford used 5-of-15 shots from beyond the arc (33.3%) to lead for 11:34 of the first half, edging the Bulldogs in points inside the paint, 14-12, while also forcing six turnovers in the frame.

Georgia was paced by Jabri Abdur-Rahim’s 12 first-half points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep, as the Bulldogs finished the half 42.3 percent from the field (11-for-26) and 40 percent from 3-point range (4-of-10).

The Bulldogs hit five of their first eight looks from the field to open the second half with a 44-40 advantage prior to the Terriers using a 7-0 run to hold a 47-40 lead by the 11-minute mark.

B.J. Mack converted a pair of free throws prior to Ryan Larson canning a three from the left wing, followed by a Sam Godwin layup holding the four-point margin. Georgia crept within one (47-46), though, Larson answered with his third trey ball of the evening to put Wofford up 50-46 (10:02). After another tied score at 50-50, Wofford used a 7-0 run, behind a Mack post finish and five points from Klesmit, to summon a seven-point cushion (57-50), as Klesmit and Mack scores continued to push a 61-57 advantage with 4:01 left.

Klesmit free throws and a Sam Godwin hook shot kept a six-point margin at 65-59, though, Georgia’s Aaron Cook came down to hit a 3-pointer and bring the game within one possession after an Abdur-Rahim free throw, 65-63. Klesmit, who hit all seven free throws in the second half, knocked down a pair at the line to push a 67-63 with 16.8 remaining, though, the Bulldogs would manage to get a late layup with eight seconds left to play (67-65). B.J. Mack would be fouled on the ensuing inbounds, going on to hit his second free throw for the three-point spread (68-65). The Bulldogs’ Kario Oquendo raced down court looking for the equalizer, heaving a three from UGA’s right wing, as it bounced off the rim at the horn to grant Wofford the 68-65 victory at the end of regulation.

Georgia finished the contest 54.3 percent from the field (25-of-46) and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc on 6-of-17 shooting. The Bulldogs also connected on 9-of-12 shots from the line (75%).

Wofford (5-2) returns back to Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium for a highly-anticipated midweek matchup with Richmond on Wednesday, December 1, slated for a 7 p.m. tip in Spartanburg, S.C.

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