No. 24 Wofford trounces Chattanooga 80-54 in AP Top 25 debut
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Wofford made a successful debut as an AP Top 25 team by relying on the same businesslike approach that got the Terriers to this point.
Wofford, a private liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with fewer than 1,600 students, moved into the Top 25 for the first time in school history Monday.
“I think our team has handled it with great confidence and humility,” Wofford coach Mike Young said. “It’s a big deal, now. It’s a big deal on our campus. But we’re still playing.”
The Terriers (25-4, 17-0 Southern Conference) haven’t lost since falling 98-87 at Mississippi State on Dec. 19. Their only other losses this season were against No. 5 North Carolina, Oklahoma and No. 15 Kansas.
A victory Saturday at Samford would make Wofford the first Southern Conference team to finish the regular season unbeaten in league competition since Davidson in 2007-08. That squad featured Stephen Curry and advanced to an NCAA regional final.
“It would be awesome,” Magee said. “We know we’ve got to play a great game on Saturday. They took us to overtime at our place (a 107-106 victory on Jan. 24), so we know we’ve got to be a lot better defensively than we were.”
Cameron Jackson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Wofford. Nathan Hoover added 11 points.
After Magee sank a 3-pointer with 1 second left in the first half to give Wofford a 10-point edge at the break, the Terriers opened the second half on a 20-2 run to build a 61-33 advantage.
“We kind of lost hope,” Toatley said. “We kind of lost fight. You could tell by the sense of urgency on defensive possessions — the block-outs, putting a hand up on shots or even simply just stopping the ball — just wasn’t there anymore. The fight was gone. It’s hard to win games when you don’t want to fight anymore.”
Wofford went on that 20-2 run without getting any points from Magee, who averages over 20 points per game and leads all Division I players in 3-pointers. Magee’s only points of the second half came on a 3-pointer with 4:08 remaining.
Magee already had done enough damage in the first half, when he scored 15 points and shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He ended up going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc and 5 of 10 overall.
Wofford: The Terriers showed no signs they were feeling any extra pressure in their first game as a ranked team. Although the game was close for most of the first half, Wofford eventually pulled away for an impressive road win.
Chattanooga: In the earlier meeting between these teams on Jan. 26, Chattanooga had an eight-point lead in the second half before falling 80-69. The rematch wasn’t nearly as close. In the second half, Chattanooga shot 8 of 27 overall and 1 of 13 on 3-point attempts in the second half.
Wofford substituted in waves and had five reserves on the floor on a number of occasions. Young has used that substitution pattern for much of the season and says it wears opponents down. He compared it to the shifts made by hockey players going on and off the ice.
“That’s our 1-B team,” Young said of his bench. “They’re going to come in and raise our level defensively. They’re going to share the ball. I thought they did a better job in the first half than 1-A. I’m proud of them. Their contributions are immeasurable.”
Wofford shot 11 of 25 and Chattanooga shot 4 of 26 on 3-point attempts. Wofford has made 41.6 percent of its 3-point shots (321 of 772) this season and entered the night ranked second among all Division I teams in that category, behind only Lehigh (43.7).
Wofford is at Samford on Saturday.
Chattanooga hosts Furman on Saturday.