After more than 5,000 miles of driving and 12 exciting college basketball games in 12 days, the FOX Sports College Basketball Road Trip crossed its finish line Monday night. The final stop of the tour was Asheville, N.C.’s U.S. Cellular Center for the Southern Conference Championship, a game between the Catamounts of Western Carolina and those pesky Terriers of Wofford College.
Davidson, the SoCon’s regular season champ and the team we expected to see when we scheduled the trip, was nowhere to be found. After suffering only one conference loss entering postseason play, the Wildcats were upset by fifth-seeded Western Carolina in the semifinals. The Catamounts looked to ride the momentum of that victory into Monday night’s championship game, but they came up just shy of punching a ticket to the Big Dance in the end.
Wofford led from start to finish en route to a 56-53 win and an NCAA berth. Terriers junior guard Karl Cochran led all scorers with 23 points, earning tournament MVP.
Wofford cut down the nets Monday night in Asheville.
Here is what we learned on the scene:
Brandon Boggs wanted the rock.
Never in my life have I seen a player throw a fit like Western Carolina’s Brandon Boggs when he didn’t get the ball. The senior guard was having a great night – he kept his team in the game and hit a clutch three with 13 seconds remaining — but he was far from a team player. If he felt he was open in the second half and the ball didn’t come his way, he would cause a scene on his way back down the court. Every. Single. Time.
With Western Carolina down three and one final possession to force overtime, a little part of me hoped someone else would take the final shot so I could see Boggs’ reaction. That was the case when Trey Sumler missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer, and Boggs didn’t let me down. He stomped his way over to the bench, hit one of the chairs with two hands, and then called for the team trainer. Apparently he hit the chair a little too hard, leading to his exit to the locker room while holding his right shoulder. It was an unhappy ending to an otherwise great game and career for Boggs.
Western Carolina Chancellor David Belcher was FIRED UP.
Belcher was going CRAZY trying to pump up the Western Carolina crowd in the second half. See for yourself:
Belcher was the most passionate fan in the building, no doubt. Possibly a little insane, too.
Things got chippy in the upper-level midway through the second half when fans from each side decided it would be a good idea to cross enemy lines. It all started when two Wofford students made their way to the Western Carolina side to taunt the rival fans, and they weren’t having any part of it.
U.S. Cellular security rushed up the stairs to prevent the situation from escalating, arriving up top right before the two sides came to blows. Had the altercation gone on a few minutes longer, it would’ve gotten ugly and ruined what was a great college basketball environment.
Who knew Southern Conference basketball was so hostile?
Wofford’s Eric Garcia won’t dance.
The freshman starting guard’s teammates begged him to join them in the postgame celebration dance, but Garcia gave them only a small taste of what his dancing shoes are capable of.
Maybe he’s saving all his moves for the Big Dance, because that’s where he and his teammates are heading after winning the SoCon tourney.