Lately, a break has been anything but easy to come by for the Wofford Terriers.
Wofford dropped three tight games in three days at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida last week, falling to the Vermont Catamounts (60-59), Bradley Braves (70-62) and Kent State Golden Flashes (66-59) in a string which involved an average of about 15 Terrier turnovers per contest.
After a quick Thanksgiving, the Terriers had to belly up the following weekend for a trip to face the Pac-12‘s Colorado Buffaloes in Wofford senior point guard Eric Garcia‘s home state. Garcia logged eight assists against two turnovers and three Terriers — Fletcher Magee (15 points), Cameron Jackson (10) and Ryan Sawvell (10) — scored in double-digits, but the homestanding Buffaloes pulled away in the second half to win, 75-60.
With four consecutive setbacks in the rearview mirror and Miami (Fl.) looming ahead, it would have been easy for the Terriers to overlook Tuesday evening’s opponent, the Division II Mars Hill Lions.
Thankfully, that wasn’t quite the case.
The Lions, a member of the South Atlantic Conference, came out shooting well and was ahead for much of the first half, leading 41-38 at halftime.
In fact, Mars Hill built an advantage as large as five points in the midst of the second-half back-and-forth, and things could have been much different if it wasn’t for the contributions of Wofford’s Sawvell, who dropped a career performance when the team needed it most.
Sawvell logged 33 minutes and scored 24 points, both career highs, and drew a key charge in the game’s waning seconds which sealed a close shave 79-76 win.
In the moments before, the Lions’ Vernon Jackson, who led the team with 20 points, drained back-to-back threes to help slice away what was Wofford’s best lead (seven points) since opening the game on an 8-0 run.
Luke Van-Rijn of Mars Hill put in a layup with 1:01 remaining to make the score 77-76, but that would be as close as the Lions would get, as Brandon Watkins, who had 14 points, committed the fateful turnover on the next possession.
In addition to Sawvell’s heroics, Garcia recorded an impressive points/assists double-double (12 points, 10 assists), and in the last four games has dished 27 assists to just six turnovers.
Wofford (2-5) will face the Miami Hurricanes (4-2) at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday as part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational.