College Corner 2/23
Converse Ends Drought
The Valkyries’ Men’s team broke a long losing streak with a 95-65 win over Erskine last week. It was the first road win in program history and a much needed one at that. Converse then dropped it’s next two games against Southern Wesleyan and King University over the weekend. After the loss to King, Converse was officially eliminated from the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Converse now sits at 6-21 overall, and 5-18 in conference play. While this isn’t the season they had hoped for as far as wins and losses, Coach Saunders and his team still have plenty to be proud of in their inaugural season. With no seniors on the team, everyone is expected to return and the Valkyries’ will have a much more experienced team going into next season.
They will look to finish the year on a positive note with their final game at home on Thursday night against Emmanuel College.
Terriers Split Again
It was another split week for Wofford, but not one without a big positive in it. The Terriers finally managed to get over the .500 hump in the Southern Conference with a 65-58 road win last Wednesday night over the Citadel in a game they led wire-to-wire for head coach Jay McAuley’s 50th career win and a regular season sweep of the Bulldogs.
The Terriers played very stingy defense, limiting the Citadel to their lowest scoring effort all season. The Bulldogs shot just 34% from the floor and 31% from distance on the night, turning the ball over 16 times. Wofford also pulled down 28 defensive rebounds to ensure the Bulldogs didn’t score any 2nd chance points. One of the most significant differences late in the game was the freethrow shooting for the Terriers. Wofford was a perfect 13 of 13 at the charity stripe, with Max Klesmit going 6 for 6, including 4 of them over the final 2 minutes of the game to help salt it away (of note – Max scored the final 8 points for the Terriers).
Klesmit was the leading scorer and a big part of the defense for Wofford with 17 points and a career high 5 steals. He shot 4-13 from the field and was 3 for 9 from the three point line (also of note – the Terriers are now 10-2 this season when he hits 3 or more 3 pointers in a game). BJ Mack finished just 2 rebounds away from a third consecutive double-double with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Austin Patterson and Ryan Larson combined for 16 points, and the Terrier bench was solid, logging 15 points in the win.
On Saturday, Wofford made the short trek to take on their arch rival – the Furman Paladins at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in downtown Greenville. Earlier this season, the Paladins had no difficulty shooting from distance, draining 18 of 37 three pointers in a dominant 75-50 win at Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. That would not be the case this time. This game had everything you’d want out of a big conference rivalry battle.
Things actually got off to a really good start for Wofford, as the Terriers jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over the first 3 minutes of the ballgame. Furman answered with a 12-0 run over the next 5 minutes to take the lead and would not look back in the first half, taking a 35-23 advantage to the half. The ‘Dins shot 41% from the field in the first half compared to Wofford’s just 32% and that was the key difference. The 2nd half, however, was the opposite story.
Wofford outscored the Paladins 46-35 in the 2nd half, outshooting them 57%-64% in the paint and 46%-45% from three point range. The Terriers took a 58-57 lead with 6:22 to play in the game via a deep three from Ryan Larson that capped a 6-0 run. Wofford would build up their biggest lead of the game since they led 10-0 early in the first half, going up 62-57 with 5:00 to play in the game. Furman would then go on a 8-1 run over the next 2 minutes to reclaim a narrow 65-63 lead. They continued to trade baskets up until Wofford came up with a clutch turnover on a steal by Ryan Larson, who drew a flagrant I while trying to secure the ball as he went down. He nailed both free throws to make it a 1 point game with :53 to play.
Wofford would get the ball back with :22 to play when BJ Mack heaved up a three to try and take the lead. He missed, and Max Klesmit came up with the offensive rebound. Here, Jay McAuley opted not to take a timeout to draw up a play for the last shot. BJ Mack once again found the ball in his hands with a chance to put the Terriers ahead in the waning seconds. He heaved a contested 3 that missed short off the front iron, and Furman came up with the rebound to secure the season sweep of Wofford 70-69, marking the first time the Terriers have been swept by the Paladins in a season since 2006.
Scoring-wise, BJ Mack led the way for the Terriers with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Ryan Larson was the next leading scorer with 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 big steals. Isaiah Bigelow and Max Klesmit combined for 21 points, 4 assists, and 11 rebounds.
With the loss, Wofford dropped back to .500 in the SoCon at 8-8 and now stands at 16-12 overall, sitting in a 3 way tie for 5th in the standings. With all the parity in the middle of the standings, the Terriers have a good chance this week to break the tie and improve their seeding for the Southern Conference Tournament.
They will take on VMI Wednesday night at 7:00 on the road and will wrap up the regular season Saturday night at 7:00 at home vs the Mercer Bears.