ASHEVILLE, N.C. — College basketball is a game of two halves. On Saturday afternoon, the Wofford Terriers proved that to be true.
In their quarter-finals match-up with the Chattanooga Mocs in the Southern Conference tournament in Asheville, N.C., the Terriers broke free in the second half, coming away with a 12-point victory over the Mocs, 79-67.
Both teams limped into the post-season, of sorts. Wofford fell in their regular season finale to the Furman Paladins. But, they had won their previous two contest.
Coming into Thursday night’s tilt against the VMI Keydets, Jackson had been on quite the roll. Over his last two games, a stretch in which the Wofford Terriers went 1-1, he averaged 16 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest, both of which were higher than his seasonal averages (10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
Against the Keydets, the sophomore out of Winchester, VA put forth the best performance of his young collegiate career.
It was only fitting that Coastal Carolina‘s Artur Labinowicz drained a long 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Wofford Terriers on Monday evening.
The game was a two-hour long shooting festival, a patchwork quilt consisting of run after run, much physicality and an ever-slim margin of error. Labinowicz’s shot would have fit into the madness nearly perfectly if it had forced overtime or won the game.
Unfortunately for the Chanticleers, it did fit into the madness perfectly — because before the heave, Wofford led by four.
The Wofford Terriers exploded in the first half, especially from behind the 3-point arc, to notch its first Division I victory of the season in a 96-77 home rout of the Ohio Valley Conference‘s Austin Peay Governors on Thursday evening.
Wofford, bouncing back from a non-conference loss to the TCU Horned Frogs last Saturday, landed nine of 13 3-point attempts in the first half, including four made by Fletcher Magee and three from Jaylen Allen. The Terriers (4-7) also moved the ball well, and thanks to both senior point guard Eric Garcia and reserve Derrick Brooks, recorded an impressive total of 15 assists on 20 made shots.
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.
Despite establishing an energetic substitution pace and leading at halftime, the Wofford Terriers could not hold on against the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 91-69 decision in the season opener.
The Terriers opened the game with a flash of déjà-vu, when for the second consecutive year a freshman made a statement debut against an SEC front. In 2015-16, star shooting guard Fletcher Magee began his collegiate career with a surprising 22 points off the bench against Missouri, a sign of strong play to come.