SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Wofford College) – Junior forward B.J. Mack and freshman guard Austin Patterson poured in a pair of career-high 20-point performances, with 24 and 20 points, respectively, to lift Wofford to an 88-62 win over Kennesaw State (3-6) at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore Max Klesmit also finished in double figures with 13 points, as the Terriers shot 52 percent from the field and hit 10-of-25 (40%) from 3-point range for the game to bounce back into the win column at 6-3 overall.
Mack and Patterson’s dual 20-point performances mark the first occurrence of two Terriers scoring 20-plus points in a game since Storm Murphy (26) and Messiah Jones (21) did so in a win versus The Citadel on Feb. 17, 2021.
“Great win. That team’s talented [Kennesaw State]. They’re going to win a lot of games in that conference,” said head coach Jay McAuley of the Owls. “Here’s what I’ll say – we’ve got a long way to go defensively, in terms of being consistent, but I thought we stepped up in huge pockets of the second half. And probably the biggest stat to me that I want to see progress more is the rebounding.”
“It was tied or slightly behind in the first half and then to win plus-six … that team gets about 12 offensive rebounds per game. To hold them to six – a lot of them were dead ball offensive rebounds – I thought our guys did, for the most part, a good job of collectively hitting and getting rebounds,” added McAuley of Wofford’s 26-20 advantage on the boards for the contest. “When we do that, we got 16 points in transition … when our motion goes and transition goes, we shoot at a high clip.”
Wofford finished the contest connecting on 26-of-50 shots from the floor on the day (52%), while forcing 16 Kennesaw State turnovers in return for 23 points. The Terriers finished with nine turnovers, ranking 23rd in the nation for turnover margin (+5.4) heading into the contest.
The Terriers additionally overpowered the Owls on the offensive boards, tallying 10 which accounted for 12 second-chance points throughout the contest.
B.J. Mack registered a game and career-best 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including a career-high 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, along with two rebounds and assists apiece in 30 minutes.
“He’s been playing really well,” said Austin Patterson of Mack’s impact this season. “When he goes in the post, he’s going to score the ball almost every single time and that causes guys to dig, and he’s a great passer, so he’s going to find us. He’s an unselfish player. He can score the heck out of the ball but he’s an unselfish player and he helps us win games for sure.”
On the other hand, Patterson provided a spark in 28 minutes off the bench, recording 20 points on a career-high 5-of-5 shots from beyond the arc and 3-for-3 from the line.
“It’s very rewarding,” added Patterson of the outcome of his consistency in practice. “These past few weeks, I’ve put in really good practices, really good weeks. Coach [McAuley] has complimented me on it, boosted my confidence, and all the coaches have, so that gives me the confidence to play how I did today.”
Patterson also set new career-highs with four rebounds and three steals.
Klesmit finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including hitting 2-of-4 from beyond the arc after a rough 0-for-13 slump over the last two contests. Klesmit added two assists and three steals, ranking second in the SoCon with a 2.0/g heading into Sunday’s contest.
Senior Ryan Larson added nine points, a game-high five assists and four rebounds, while Morgran Safford, Isaiah Bigelow, Luke Turner and Sam Godwin all finished with five points each.
Kennesaw State was led by Chris Youngblood with 20 points and six rebounds, followed by Spencer Rodgers (12) and Kasen Jennings (11).
B.J. Mack opened the contest with Wofford’s first six points, connecting on 3-of-3 over the opening 3:09 to hold a 6-5 edge prior to the Owls taking a 9-7 lead. The score would be tied at 9-all after a pair of Luke Turner free throws, as Max Klesmit then drilled a 3-pointer to knot the score once more (12-12) and spark an 11-0 run to hold a 20-12 lead halfway through the first half.
After Klesmit’s trey, B.J. Mack came down and finished a hook shot across the lane before Austin Patterson knocked down his first three of the half for a 17-12 margin. Sam Godwin connected on 1-of-2 at the line prior to Patterson corralling a steal to be fouled on a fast break layup – converting at the line for the 20-12 advantage.
The Owls used a brief 5-0 spurt to come within five points, 20-15, though, another 3-pointer from Patterson and a Mack spinning layup in the paint pushed a six-point cushion, 27-21. A Kennesaw State 6-0 run knotted the score at 27-27 prior to a Ryan Larson three and Mack free throws holding a five-point cushion, 32-27 (4:01). Austin Patterson then answered a Youngblood three with his third 3-pointer of the half, as a Klesmit layup and another pair of Mack free throws closed the first half on a 7-0 run to lead 39-30.
Mack and Patterson led with 16 and 11 first-half points, respectively, as the Terriers shot 50 percent overall (13-for-26) and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc on 5-of-12 shooting.
Wofford opened the second half scoring nine of the first 13 points to bust its first double-digit margin, 48-34, at a Kennesaw State timeout by the 16:57 mark.
B.J. Mack hit a jumper from around the right elbow before a Sam Godwin layup and Isaiah Bigelow trey from the top of the key ensued to lead 46-34. Godwin then corralled a tip-in off a Mack 3-point miss, forcing the Owls to talk things over down 48-34.
The Terriers continued to extend the lead, as Patterson drilled and converted an and-one 3-pointer (51-38) prior to Wofford using a 9-1 run after a Morgan Safford three (54-41) to hold an 18-point lead, 60-42 (11:54). The Owls played with persistence over the following four minutes in netting 10 of the next 17 points for a 67-52 spread, though, Wofford would use another 11-0 run to bust out its largest lead of the day at 78-52 with 4:28 remaining.
Mack laid in his 24th bucket before feeding Klesmit for his second trey of the game to go up by 20 at 72-52. Patterson corralled a steal for a fast break layup on the other end, as, converted free throws from Larson and Safford pushed the 26-point lead. From there, Wofford finished the contest at the line, shooting 18-for-19 from the charity stripe in the frame (94.7%), to walk away with the 88-62 victory at the horn.
The Terriers shot 89.7 percent from the free-throw line for the game on a season-high 26-for-29 shooting.
The Owls finished the contest hitting 22-of-45 (48.9%) and 9-of-19 from beyond the arc (47.4%). Kennesaw State finished 9-for-13 from the free-throw line (69.2%).
Wofford held the edge in points inside the paint, 28-20, and bench points, 32-18.
The Terriers prepare for a four-game road swing to close out the fall semester, starting with a road matchup in Boiling Springs, N.C., at Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Tip-off is slated for a 7 p.m. start on ESPN+.