Spartanburg S.C.- The Wofford College men’s basketball team trailed the Mercer Bears by one point with 40 seconds remaining. The Terriers would sink four free throws while getting a key defensive stop to help put the Bears away by a 70-67 score in a game that was competitive the whole way with ten lead changes.

The Terriers (14-14, 6-9 SoCon) shot 70% (14-of-20) from the field in the second half as they overcame a 31-29 halftime deficit to win. After a road win on January 4 that featured freshman Jackson Paveletzke’s buzzer beater, the Terriers earned the season sweep against Mercer (12-16, 5-10 SoCon).

“They’re a really good team and coach Gary does a great job,” said interim head coach Dwight Perry. “They’re really physical and they’re tough. they throw out really unconventional lineups with different sizes and try to exploit different mismatches. Credit to our guys. Our guys deserve this for the fight that they have shown, not just tonight but time and time again this season.”

Senior B.J. Mack led the game in scoring with 22 points, senior Messiah Jones added 13 points which included a few late buckets. Paveletzke scored 11 and made the late free throws that gave Wofford the late lead that they would not relinquish. 

Mack has scored 50 points in the last two games and said after the game that “things are just going in, I’ve been working outside of practice and in practice.”

“B.J. Mack impacts the game just as much as any player in our league on both sides of the floor,” said Perry. “Mack is one of the smartest players in this conference. He is one of the most skilled players and one of the best players in this conference.”

Kamar Robertson led the Bears in scoring with 14 points, however he struggled shooting just 3-13 and fouled out with one second left in the game.

After two narrow overtime defeats last week the Terriers were able to pull out the close game this time.

“We came in with a lot of pressure but we wanted to get this win by playing together and playing hard on defense,” said Perry. “We knew it was going to come down to defense.”

Wofford started the game well, jumping out to a 10-4 lead, which included six points from Messiah Jones. Mercer was able to go on an 8-0 run at the ten-minute mark and led for most of the late first half. The Bears led by five before a last second three by B.J. Mack cut the half time deficit to only three.

In the second half Wofford trailed 39-33 but took a 43-41 lead on a breakaway slam from sophomore Corey Tripp. The remainder of the game was competitive as neither team led by more than three points in the last 14 minutes.

In the final minute Junior Jalyn McCreary gave the Bears a 67-66 lead on a layup.

After that Jackson Paveletzke would be fouled and sank both free throws to take the lead. Mercer would miss the ensuing shot and a Corey Tripp rebound and led to another foul. Paveletzke would add one more to the Terrier lead to extend it to 69-67 and another stop led to a Tripp free throw with one second left.

Mercer would attempt a full court heave that wouldn’t have counted but came up short anyways to seal the 70-67 win.

The Terriers will now prepare to travel to Charleston to take on the Citadel, who beat conference leaders Furman on Wednesday. Only three games remain for the Terriers before the SoCon tournament in Asheville N.C.

 “We preach to them day in and day out that if we get better it’s going to lead us to being in the championship game. I feel like we’ll have the best chance, if we continue to play hard and play together nothing is stopping us,” Mack said.

“One thing we’ve preached to our team is we can keep getting better. The great part is we can continue to get better after a win, these guys deserve it. I’d also like to thank everybody that came out tonight, really appreciate the crowd and the energy, our guys deserve that,” Perry said.

Quick Hits

  • Wofford outshot Mercer from the field 25-45 (55.6%) to 23-50 (46.0%).
  • Mercer went 7-13 from three while Wofford went 4-12.
  • The Terriers shot 16-22 from the free-throw line while Mercer shot 14-17.
  • The Bears out rebounded Wofford 29-21.