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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Men’s basketball wraps up season

Photo+courtesy+of+Wofford+Athletics.%0AMax+Klesmit+scores+the+game+winning+bucket+in+the+SoCon+quarterfinals+against+VMI.+The+Terriers+would+lose+the+next+day+to+Chattanooga%2C+ending+their+season.
Photo courtesy of Wofford Athletics. Max Klesmit scores the game winning bucket in the SoCon quarterfinals against VMI. The Terriers would lose the next day to Chattanooga, ending their season.

The Wofford men’s basketball team wrapped up their season after a disappointing 79-56 loss to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs in the Southern Conference tournament semifinals. 

The loss to UTC followed a thrilling 68-66 win over the Virginia Military Institute Keydets in the quarterfinals. 

A go-ahead and-1 bucket by guard Max Klesmit ‘24 put the Terriers ahead with 7.5 seconds left, and the Keydets were not able to get a shot off in time on the final possession. 

Trailing 66-65, a BJ Mack ‘23 bucket with 23.6 seconds left was waived off as Mack was called with an offensive foul. However, Mack, with help from Ryan Larson ‘22 and Morgan Safford ‘23 hassled VMI’s Tray Bonham on the ensuing possession and forced a turnover to give the ball back to the Terriers with 19 seconds left, culminating in Klesmit’s winning basket. 

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“Credit to our team, sticking together,” Klesmit said after the game. “Put on a little pressure with the choke-on press that we did, I don’t know who got the deflection, but (Austin Patterson) ended up coming with the loose ball.”

The Terriers were not able to replicate Saturday afternoon’s success during their Sunday tip against the Mocs, a game in which Chattanooga never trailed and the Terriers never got within single digits after the 5:00 mark of the first half. The Mocs went on to beat Furman in the title match thanks to last-second heroics by veteran player David Jean-Baptiste, but fell just short of an upset NCAA win against Illinois in the first round. 

Wofford finished the season 19-13 (10-8 SoCon), highlighted by a sweep over rival The Citadel, as well as a win against an SEC program in the Georgia Bulldogs. The eventual Atlantic 10 champion Richmond Spiders came to town for a well-attended game at Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium; the Spiders would go on to upset Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

Despite fighting inconsistency at times, Wofford won four of their last five games heading into the SoCon tournament. Although the team accepted an invitation to The Basketball Classic – a rebranding of the old Collegeinsider.com Tournament – they eventually dropped out after multiple rescheduled dates and an opponent was never assigned. 

Mack led the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg while collecting second team all-SoCon honors. Klesmit averaged 14.9 ppg while earning a third team all-SoCon nomination. 

The Terriers suffered a blow early in the season when forward Messiah Jones ‘22 suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Nov. 21 in a 70-52 win against Georgia Southern. Jones averaged 9.4 ppg and 3.8 rpg in the Terriers’ first five games, and his caliber as a post presence and hustle player was missed, forcing Mack to play more at center despite his ability to stretch beyond the paint and shoot the ball. 

Veteran leadership by Mack, Larson and Isaiah Bigelow ‘22 anchored the Terriers throughout the season, while Klesmit, Safford and Austin Patterson ‘25 all expanded on their roles from last season. 

Since the NCAA awarded all student-athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the players on the roster will have the decision to return or take their grad transfer year elsewhere. Larson announced on Instagram he will enter the transfer portal after graduating, and Bigelow and Jones have not yet announced where or if they will take advantage of the extra years. 

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