JACKSONVILLE – Wofford won an NCAA tournament basketball game, and it wasn’t an upset.
The seventh-seeded Terriers defeated 10th-seeded Seton Hall 84-68 Thursday in a Midwest Regional first-round game.
And what a night it was for Wofford, a private liberal arts college located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with an enrollment 1,672 undergraduates.
- The Terriers won their first NCAA tournament game in their fifth appearance.
- Senior guard Fletcher Magee became the NCAA’s Division I all-time leader in career 3-pointers. Three shy of the record entering the game game, he made seven and now has 509. With 158 3-pointers this season, he’s four shy of tying Steph Curry’s single-season record for made threes.
- It was Wofford’s school-record 30th victory of the season and its 21st consecutive victory. The Terriers had earned the highest seed for a Southern Conference school since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
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This victory was a long-time coming for Wofford’ Mike Young, who has been at the school for 30 years, including 17 as head coach. The Terriers came close to tournament victories before, losing to Arkansas 56-53 in 2015 and Wisconsin 53-49 in 2010. Those games were in Jacksonville, too.
“It’s so damn hard to win in this tournament,” Young said. “It’s the greatest tournament of them all. You’re going to play somebody really good, and we played somebody really good tonight. This is the best team that I’ve had.”
Wofford plays Kentucky in a second-round game on Saturday.
Magee, the Southern Conference player of the year, scored 24 points on 7-for-12 3-point shooting.
“Really neat,” Young said of Fletcher’s record-setting performance. “And what you don’t see, what you don’t have a pulse of is how uncommon he is and how hard he’s time time and time and time again in that gym,
“I go over often to watch film. I enjoy it, no phones, and I can’t tell you how many times I walk in that gorgeous building of ours and there’s a ball bouncing, and I know it’s him. 9 at night, 10 at night, and he’s not messing around. He’s going at it, getting better.”
But Wofford is hardly a one-man show.
Young goes deep into his bench. He used 12 players in the first half, including 10 who played at least three minutes. Nathan Hoover added 18 points and Cameron Jackson had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Storm Murphy had 12 points for Wofford, which made 13-of-28 three-pointers.
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Wofford used a 16-2 run in the first half to take a 29-16 lead, and it led 40-30 at halftime. A Magee 3-pointer with 13:45 left in the second half put the Terriers ahead 53-42. Seton Hall called timeout and began its push to get back in the game with pressure defense.
The Pirates took a 54-53 lead on Myles Powell’s deep 3-pointer with 10:50 remaining in the second half.
But Wofford didn’t panic and used a 31-14 run to seal the victory.
“They never have that look about them like we’ve got a problem,” Young said. “Seton Hall takes a stab at us, takes the lead. There was never an air of panic, never an air of, ‘Oh, my God, we’ve got a problem.’ Next possession, next best action. Figure it out. And they’ve done it time and time and time again.
“So comforting as a coach to be able to just manage the team. You’re not trying to encourage them. You’re not trying to lift their spirits. You’re coaching the team, what’s next, what are we looking at. That’s a big deal.”
Seton Hall hounded Magee, but the long-distance sharpshooter slipped free for a couple of open threes, including one giving Wofford a 67-62 lead with 5:24 to go.
“They did a good job, especially in the first half, of just topping me and kind of making it hard to get the ball,” Magee said. “But that’s when Cam was playing amazing in the first half. Everyone else on our team was stepping up and doing a lot of things, so I knew that there was no need to rush it or take bad shots. We were still controlling the game.”
Magee had help in the 3-point department. Nathan Hoover made two in a row, and Magee followed with a 3-pointer pushing the Terriers’ lead to 76-66 with 3:03 to play.
“Me and Nate were kind of feeding off each other at that point,” Magee said.