SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Wofford SID) – Senior Spencer Collins scored a season-high 25 points and the Wofford men’s basketball team put an end to its five-game losing streak with a win against UNCG, 87-76, Saturday night at Benjamin Johnson Arena. It was the Southern Conference opener for both teams.
Collins picked up right where he left off the last time he played UNCG. On March 6, he scored 21 on 9-of-14 shooting as Wofford cruised to an 18-point win in the Southern Conference quarterfinals. Saturday night, he added 25 on 8-of-13 shooting, including a 5-of-7 mark from beyond the arc. The final triple pushed Wofford’s lead to its largest of the night of 12 points with 3:12 to play.
“I told [Collins] in the locker room, ‘I know that guy, I’ve seen that guy,’ and we needed every one of those 25 points,” said head coach Mike Young. “He had been struggling a bit and trying to battle through it. But he’s a senior and he never blinked, never gave in, got in the gym and worked on his game. What a big night for him.”
It wasn’t just Collins that snapped out of an offensive funk. Wofford (4-9, 1-0 SoCon) ended the night shooting exactly 50 percent (26-52), a significant improvement form the 39 percent the team was averaging over its last five games. Junior Eric Garcia drained 17, senior Justin Gordon netted a dozen and freshman Fletcher Magee added 10 more.
“We needed something good to happen and we did just that,” added Young. “It was a team win. We’ve got a long way to go, but when we wake up tomorrow we’ll be in first place with [league play] kicked off on the right foot.”
The Terriers put up good numbers all over the stat sheet. In addition to a 50-percent shooting night, Wofford made 11-of-23 (47.8 pct.) from 3-point range and 24-of-26 (92.3 pct.) from the free throw line. They also outrebounded UNCG (4-10, 0-1 SoCon) 34-29, thanks in large part to a game-high eight boards from C.J. Neumann. The senior also limited UNCG’s R.J. White to just five rebounds – he entered the night No. 3 in the SoCon at nearly seven per game. Gordon, redshirt junior Ryan Sawvell and junior Jaylen Allen each skied for five on the glass.
For UNCG, White led the way with 19 points on 9-of-12 from the floor. The big 6-foot-8 center led the Spartans to a decisive 48-18 advantage in the paint. Junior Diante Baldwin scored 14, while senior Kayel Locke and sophomore Marvin Smith rounded out UNCG’s double-figure scorers with 13 apiece.
UNCG to shot above 50 percent in each half and finished the game at 52.5 percent (32-61). However, Wofford outscored the Spartans 33-15 from 3-point land and 24-7 at the free throw line.
Both sides came out firing. Neither team led by more than four points in the first half and the two sides entered the locker rooms tied at 36. White had 10, but was limited to just eight minutes after picking up his second foul at the 10:07 mark.
Gordon started the second half with a slam on the opening possession and the two teams went toe to toe through the first 13 minutes. Wofford led 63-60 with 6:30 to play, but went on a 12-3 run to take a 12-point lead, capped by back-to-back triples by Garcia and Collins.
UNCG cut the lead to six on a Baldwin basket with 1:26 left. Wofford scored the next five points to build its lead back to double figures and knocked down 9-of-10 at the stripe through the final 1:10 to cement the victory.
The Terriers continue Southern Conference play on Tuesday when they visit VMI. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m., at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.
– Spencer Collins scored 25 points, which was one off his career-high 26 that he scored on February 26, 2015 at Mercer.
– Collins moved into sole possession of 17th place on Wofford’s all-time scoring list. He now has 1,395 career points and is six behind Trap Hart (1959-56) for 16th place.
– Eric Garcia scored 17 points, which was one off his season-high 18 that he scored on December 14 against Coastal Carolina.
– Wofford went 24-of-26 at the free throw line, making their first 15 attempts. The Terriers improved their free throw percentage this season to exactly 75 percent (180-240).
– Wofford improved to 10-9 in Southern Conference openers and has now won its last three.
– The Terriers ended their five-game losing streak, the team’s longest since losing six straight in 2008.