By Justin Mathis
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Earlier this week, there was some confusion about who was playing where in the second round of the College Insider Tournament. Long story short, it resulted in Wofford, who didn’t submit a bid to host, playing at home against Central Michigan in the second round.
After both teams took to the court on Friday night, it was if neither club could miss, especially from behind the arc. In the end, the live by the three philosophy proved to be enough as the Central Michigan Chippewas outlasted the Wofford Terriers 98-94 in front of 1,448 at Richardson Indoor Stadium.
In the first half, the Chippewas caught fire by hitting five of their first six shots, which included a quartet of three pointers, staking themselves out to a 14-6 lead four minutes into the game. In the first half, Central Michigan only attempted five shots from inside the arc and also made eight of their first 10 three point attempts.
Josh Kozinski and David Dileo did the majority of the damage in the first half, scoring 23 first half points for the Chippewas.
“I’m thrilled we had to opportunity to (play in the CIT),” Wofford head coach Mike Young said. “I thought (our team) handled it very well. We played a team from a very good mid-major conference. Coach Davis is a fine coach. We didn’t guard as well as we needed to and didn’t rebound as well as we needed to… (Kozinski) was unconscious to start, (Dileo) was unconscious to start, and then they kind of all chipped in there.”
Late in the opening frame, Wofford capped it off a rally to end the first half when Fletcher Magee hit a triple to put the Terriers up 42-41 heading into the halftime break.
The teams continued to trade punches throughout the second stanza amid an up tempo pace, in which neither team held an advantage larger than six points. In the second half alone, there were eight ties and eight lead changes.
“We kind of let them get in rhythm,” Magee explained. “A lot of the shots they hit were tough shots. When you have shooters like them that are feeling confident, you can put up a lot of points. I thought we survived their hot start (in the first half) and were going to hold them to 70 or 75 points… they shot the ball really well.”
The last of those ties occurred with 1:09 left in regulation, when Wofford’s Cam Jackson split a pair of free throws to pull the Terriers even with the Chippewas at 87. But on the ensuing Central Michigan possession, Cecil Williams drained a left wing three with 47 seconds remaining, giving the Chippewas a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The two clubs to knock down 32 of 69 three point attempts (CMU 17-38, Wofford 15-31) during the contest.
“It was good to get that blood going at the end of a (postseason) game,” Magee added. “As a player, you love that. I just wish that we would’ve executed better and finished it down the stretch here at home.”
Fletcher Magee led the way for Wofford with a game-high 37 points, including an 8-for-14 clip from the arc. Cam Jackson tallied 22 points and nine rebounds, while Nathan Hoover also notched 16 points for the Terriers.
David Dileo scored a team-high 22 points for Central Michigan, followed by Kevin McKay (21 points), Josh Kozinski (18 points, 6-for-10 on three pointers), Cecil Williams (17), and Shawn Roundtree (11).
“I hate that it’s come to an end,” Young stated. “(It was a) great college ball game. I hate that we end it (tonight), but they were a little bit better than we were. We look forward to the opportunity to tee it up and get better in a couple of months. It can’t get here fast enough.”
Wofford finishes the 2017-18 campaign at 21-13, the highest win total for the Terriers since the 2014-15 season (28-7 record), when they played in the NCAA Tournament.
Central Michigan improves to 21-14 overall and advances to the Quarterfinals of the College Insider Tournament.