On Thursday, the Wofford Terriers came prepared to take on ETSU, the No. 2-ranked team in the Southern Conference in scoring offense and field goal percentages. The Bucs’ poor shooting in the game resulted in an 87-73 loss to Wofford in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The game was neck and neck in the first half, until a 3-point shot by Woffford’s Jaylen Allen (Johnson City, Tenn.) was completed with a foul. Allen missed the foul shot, but teammate Ryan Sawvell (Mundelein, Ill.) rebounded the ball and put it back in to add 2 more points, giving Wofford 5 points to tie the game at 21.
After the game was tied at 21, a 21-7 run in the final eight minutes of the first half was not something the Bucs were prepared for. The game seemed to be looking fairly one-sided going into halftime.
Offense didn’t look well either for the Bucs in the first half, as Wofford looked to control the court on defense. ETSU’s shots struggled to fall in the rim, and Wofford held the Bucs to 17.6 percent from the 3-point line and 40 percent from the field. Wofford completed three steals and two blocks at the end of the first half, while the Bucs only stole the ball once with no blocks to add.
“It’s amazing how things like that happen… and that’s on us,” said ETSU coach Steve Forbes. “We fouled a 3-point shooter and didn’t block out, and that swung the game. When you’re playing really good teams on the road, you can’t have that type of mental breakdown.”
Despite being only one rebound ahead (38-37) when the game ended, the Bucs were out-rebounded in the first half, losing two of those on defensive rebounds.
“We got physically whipped on the glass,” said Forbes. “They just got rebounds that we should have had. We went back to the old way of grabbing the ball with one hand, not checking out, and they just out toughed us. It wasn’t really athleticism… They were missing, but we were not getting rebounds… I thought that was a big key in the first half.”
In the second half, both teams had their fair share of moments. The Bucs started the half on a 7-0 run, but it was quickly stopped by Wofford’s defense. Wofford began to mimic their offense in the first half as they began to pile on the points. The Bucs closed the gap to 11 points with 1:56 remaining, but it was not enough to put Wofford away.
“We couldn’t ever get over the hump,” said Forbes. “I was proud of our players at the end how they battled, and we learned a lot tonight about playing these guys. I thought we did a good job of fighting and getting back in it, but it was too big of a mountain to overcome.”
ETSU’s Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tenn.) made a big contribution as he finished the game with a career-high 17 points, making seven shots on nine attempts. Fifteen of those 17 points came in the second half.