In a game where two Georgia Southern players reached 1,000 career points, nobody on GSU’s bench was celebrating.
The Eagles went on a 23-12 run during the final 12 minutes, but dug themselves into too big of a hole early in the second half as the Wofford Terriers won 74-64 on Thursday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Eagles (9-11, 2-3 Southern Conference) trailed by as many as 17 points when Wofford’s Karl Cochran hit a jumper to put the Terriers (9-10, 4-3) ahead 58-41. GSU made an effort at a comeback, pulling within six on a Brian Holmes free throw, but with only a minute on the clock, the comeback ran out of time.
Junior Jelani Hewitt (18 points) and senior Tre Bussey (13) both surpassed 1,000 points in the game.
“It’s a great thing for those guys to accomplish,” GSU coach Mark Byington said. “It’s a career number, what those guys have done. It’s great for them, but I know they wanted to win. It’s great to look back on, scoring 1,000 points, but hopefully they can score a lot more for us and have better games in the future.”
Bussey’s free throw with 12:41 to play hit the threshold for him, while Hewitt did it at the foul line in the first half.
“It was a special moment, and doing it at home was really special,” Hewitt said. “I’m glad to be a part of that group.”
Wofford’s gameplan included doubling Hewitt, and it worked as Hewitt was shut out from the floor and managed only four foul shots in the first 20 minutes.
“They were denying me,” Hewitt said. “In the second half I knew I had to be more aggressive.”
The Terriers scored 18 points off of 12 GSU turnovers.
“They’re the best defensive team in the league for a reason,” Byington said. “They really make you work, and you’ve got to have patience to let them break down. We were too impatient, and we tried to make plays that weren’t there.”
Forward Angel Matias led GSU to a 33-31 rebounding advantage with a team-high 9 boards, and added 13 points including a game-opening 3-pointer and 10 hard-earned points in the paint.
“Angel is just a monster,” Hewitt said, “and we need him to continue doing that.”
The game went back and forth in the opening 4 minutes, with the Eagles taking an 8-7 lead on a jumper in the paint by Marvin Baynham.
Wofford used a 6-0 run to pull ahead 13-8, and Hewitt made it 13-10 with a pair of free throws at the 13:26 mark that included his 1,000th point.
The Eagles scrapped back when a pair of Bussey free throws cut Wofford’s lead to 23-22, but the wheels started to fall off as the Terriers closed the half on a 12-4 run that included six straight points by Eric Garcia and a two-handed slam by Justin Gordon.
Another pair of Hewitt free throws left GSU trailing 35-26 at halftime. Wofford out-gunned the Eagles during the opening 20 minutes by shooting 54 percent from the floor to GSU’s 30 percent.
The Terriers shot at the same clip in the second half, and the Eagles — who improved to 41 percent for the game — made only 5 of 18 3s.
Cochran dominated Wofford’s offense, scoring a game-high 25 points. Forward Spencer Collins added 18 points and Garcia added 15.
The Eagles return to the road on Saturday to face Davidson at 7 p.m.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.