GREENSBORO, N.C. – Junior forward B.J. Mack led Wofford with a game-high 18 points but Wofford came up short in the closing minutes of play on Monday evening, slipping to UNCG (10-5, 2-1 SoCon) at the Greensboro Coliseum, 58-54. Wofford led for 30:18 of the game and shot 47.4 percent in the second half, though, turnovers would make the difference late, seeing the Spartans convert 27 points off a season-high 19 Wofford turnovers, including 12 in the final 20 minutes, to secure the come-from-behind win.
The loss drops the Terriers to 9-7 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Conference.
“We turned them over 15 and got nine points. They got 27 points off our just loud turnovers,” said head coach Jay McAuley of the turnover margin. “Whether it’s an extra dribble, a poor angle on a screen, there was a lot of fatigue things out there I thought that showed up and they took advantage. A good basketball team that can be really physical and disruptive, instead of being really detail-oriented. We kind of took some shortcuts in some areas execution-wise and it really cost us.”
Wofford finished the contest 19-of-46 from the field (41.3%) and 36 percent from long distance (9-for-25), while finishing a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe in the contest.
Taking care of the ball has been a point of emphasis for the Terriers this season, and program as a whole, though, Wofford has struggled through four league contests, exceeding its season average (12.1) in each game.
B.J. Mack led all scorers with his fifth-straight double-figure output of 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. The junior also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds, though, was plagued with seven turnovers throughout the contest.
Senior guard Ryan Larson tallied 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range to pair with three rebounds and a block, while sophomore Max Klesmit recorded 10 points and five rebounds, though, also suffering from a costly six turnovers in the game.
Junior Isaiah Bigelow contributed nine points, including 4-of-4 from the line as a 91.4-percent free-throw shooter on the season, and four rebounds, as freshman Austin Patterson added six points on 2-of-4 shooting from three in addition to an assist and three steals.
UNCG finished 41.7 percent from the floor (20-of-48) and hit 32.1 percent of its looks from three (9-of-28), led by 17 points from Kobe Langley, including the late go-ahead buckets and game-sealing free throws, and 11 points from Bas Leyte.
Holding a 14-12 lead with 7:37 to play in the first half, freshman Corey Tripp found Austin Patterson for a three on the right wing to spark a brief 5-0 spurt that handed Wofford a momentum shift in its favor at 17-12. Scores from Mack and Bigelow steadily boosted the lead, as a Larson three and strong second-chance finish for Mack pushed a nine-point edge, 24-15 (2:07).
Larson free throws then pushed the Terriers first double-digit spread, 26-15, with 1:35 remaining before a Klesmit finish and Langley buzzer-beating three sent both teams to the locker room with Wofford up 28-18.
Coming out of the break, Mack paced the Terriers with their first seven points of the second half, weathering a UNCG 7-0 run in the midst, to hold a 35-29 lead after a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Klesmit then found Austin Patterson for his second trey to push the margin to eight, 38-30, though, UNCG’s Leyte and De’Monte Buckingham paced the Spartans to creep back, 38-35, by the 9:31 mark.
Back-to-back three balls from B.J. Mack and Ryan Larson regained a six-point cushion for the Terriers (44-38), though, UNCG’s Buckingham buried a three to spark a 6-0 Spartans run and knot the margin at 44-44 with 5:32 left to play. Larson again would nail a deep 3-pointer to reclaim the edge, 47-44, as a Langley free-throw and another timely Buckingham three handed UNCG its first lead of the contest since the 13:44 mark of the first half, leading 48-47 (4:13).
Mack lifted the Terriers once again, corralling a Klesmit turnaround jumper for a layup, to reclaim a 49-48 advantage, as UNCG’s Langley came down on the next possession to drill a three, followed by a Kaleb Hunter layup, to possess a four-point margin with 2:33 to play, 53-49. Isaiah Bigelow knocked down two crucial free throws at the line, while Max Klesmit would give Wofford its final lead of the contest, 54-53, with 1:15 remaining after converting a spinning lay with contact.
Down the stretch, Langley would bury yet another three for the fifth lead change of the frame to put UNCG ahead with 16 seconds, 56-54. Coming out of a timeout, Wofford had a chance to tie or go ahead with the final shot, however, Langley would come up with a steal on Klesmit prior to being fouled and put in the bonus with 0.8 left on the clock to ultimately seal the deal at the line with the 58-54 spread at the horn.
The Spartans shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24), including 6-of-12 from three, from the field and hit 8-for-11 from the line in the second half (72.7%).
Wofford held the rebound advantage for the fourth-straight contest, 30-28, though, the Spartans held edges in points inside the paint (20-16) and second-chance points (17-15).
Next, Wofford (9-7, 1-3 SoCon) returns back to Spartanburg, hosting Samford on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium for a 7 p.m. tip.