MACON, Ga. (Wofford SID) – Eric Garcia hit a three pointer with 1.8 seconds to go in the game and propelled the Wofford men’s basketball team to a 65-62 win over Mercer on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Wofford improves to 11-13 overall and 6-5 in the Southern Conference, while Mercer falls to 11-14 on the season and 5-7 in conference action.
“We fought, we competed, and we played really hard,” said head coach Mike Young. “They do a great job of guarding us and I think with 35% field goal defense, we did a great job as well. I was proud of how hard we fought. This is a good road win and much needed.”
Wofford swept Mercer this season and won back to back road conference games for the first time since Feb. 5-7, 2015 when The Terriers defeated ETSU and VMI.
“We have had a hard time on the road this year, but to pick up two road wins going in to a three game home stand is exciting,” said Garcia.
Fletcher Magee led Wofford in scoring for the third consecutive game as the sophomore finished with 23 points. Nathan Hoover added 12 points on four three’s (4-5) and Cameron Jackson scored nine points, all in the second half of play. Jackson also recorded four of Wofford’s eight steals, tying a season high.
Wofford came out firing, hitting a three (from three different players) on four straight possessions to start the game. The first half was evenly matched as neither team led by more than four points. Wofford took a slight 28-26 lead into the half with Fletcher Magee leading the Terriers with 14.
Mercer tied it up right out of the intermission and held on to the lead until Magee hit one of his four three pointer’s to put Wofford ahead 49-47 with six minutes to go in the game. The two teams’ swapped baskets from then on out. With Mercer leading by two points, Jackson made a layup with 1:21 to go to knot the game at 59. Magee made a jumper with just under 40 seconds to go to give Wofford a two point lead. Ria’n Holland went to the free throw line with 26 seconds on the clock and a chance to tie and the 83.3% free throw shooter only made the first.
Jackson went to the line right after and made one of two to extend Wofford’s lead to two points. Mercer’s Jordan Strawberry made a layup with 15 seconds remaining to tie the game at 62, but give Wofford the ball for the final possession. With 1.8 seconds to go, Magee found Garcia at the top of the key and Garcia drilled a three pointer to give Wofford a 65-62 edge. Stephon Jelks threw up a desperation three as time expired but the shot was no good and the Terriers emerged victorious.
“What a great, unselfish pass from Fletcher,” said Garcia. “The play was for him, because he was having an amazing night but I think that’s got to be one of the best plays of his career to be unselfish like that.”
Holland led Mercer with 23 points (7-15 FG). Jelks went 1-10 from the field, but 9-10 from the line and finished with 11.
‘Mercer is a great team,” said Young. “Every time we come here we get their best effort. They have a great team and a great coach, but we are fighters and tonight we fought.”
After three games away from Benjamin Johnson Arena, Wofford heads home for three consecutive home games in the “Defend The Ben” week, starting on Monday, Feb. 6. Wofford hosts ETSU on Monday, Samford on Thursday and Chattanooga on Saturday, all at 7 p.m.
“We have a chance to have three great crowds and it should be a heck of a game on Monday,” Young added. “It’ll be nice to be home and off of a bus for a few weeks.”
After next Saturday, Wofford’s only remaining home game will be senior night on Feb. 18 against Western Carolina.