ASHEVILLE, N.C. (SoCon Sports) – No. 3 seed UNCG took the lead with just 3.6 seconds remaining, but No. 6 seed Wofford would win it at the buzzer, with B.J. Mack’s layup high off the glass dropping to beat the Spartans 67-66 in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville.
The Terriers advance to face No. 7 Chattanooga in Sunday’s semifinal round at 6:30 p.m.
After Mack hit a layup with 9.5 seconds on the clock to put Wofford back on top 65-64, the Spartans called a timeout and found Dante Treacy for a driving layup to regain the lead with 3.6 on the clock. The Terriers would have the final possession, inbounding the ball to Mack as he drove through a sea of defenders to drop in the game-winner at the buzzer, setting up a meeting with the Mocs in the semifinals for the second straight year.
UNCG won the opening tip and quickly scored the game’s first basket. The teams traded baskets for the first few minutes but Wofford managed to string together a few baskets to pull ahead by five before UNCG’s Keondre Kennedy scored his team’s next eight points to swing the lead in the Spartan’s direction. UNCG remained on top for much of the half to head into the break with a five-point lead. Kennedy was electric for the Spartans, going a near-perfect 6-for-7 from the field for 17 points.
Wofford’s Mack hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to start the half. UNCG took its largest lead of the game at seven and held that advantage before a 12-3 Wofford run flipped the game in favor of the Terriers. Wofford’s Jackson Paveletze and UNCG’s Kennedy traded buckets as both teams jockeyed for the lead. Paveletzke gave the Terriers a five-point advantage with a finger roll that banked in high off the glass. Kennedy cut it to one with just 1:37 in regulation and then gave the Spartans the lead with another pair of makes from the charity stripe with 25 seconds left, setting up the drama of the final seconds.
Mack led the Terriers with 16 points and eight rebounds to go with his game-clinching bucket. Paveletzke and Messiah Jones each tallied 14 points, with Jones pouring in 10 of his 14 in the second half. Kyler Filewich also came close to a double-double with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Both squads pulled down 32 total rebounds, but the Terriers were able to take advantage of their 12 offensive boards and convert them into 15 second-chance points.
Kennedy spearheaded a trio of Spartans in double figures, posting a career-best 26 points after putting up 17 in the first half. Kennedy also led his team by pulling down six rebounds. Treacy and Mikeal Brown-Jones contributed with 13 and 11 points, respectively. The Spartans recorded their second-fewest turnovers of the season at just eight for the game.
RECORDS: No. 3 UNCG 20-12 | No. 6 Wofford 17-15