Wofford wins 2014 Southern Conference basketball tournament: Terriers hold on in dramatic finish for SoCon's NCAA berth

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wofford punched its third NCAA tournament ticket in five years Monday.

The Wofford Terriers squandered a second-half lead in the Southern Conference final Monday but held on to top the Western Carolina Catamounts 56-53 and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Down 54-50, Western Carolina's Brandon Boggs hit a three with 6.3 seconds left to bring the game within one point. Karl Cochran received the inbounds pass with 5.3 left and made both free throws to give the Terriers a 56-53 lead that they would not relinquish.

Wofford coach Mike Young called a timeout to set up his defense and opted not to foul up three and in the single bonus. Western Carolina's Trey Sumler had a clean look from the right wing at a game-tying three as time expired, but the ball hit off the backboard and clanked off the rim.

Wofford will make its third NCAA Tournament appearance since joining Division I in 1997. The Terriers made the field in 2010 and 2011, losing within the first two rounds both times. The Terriers, ranked No. 183 in KenPom.com's team rankings, finished third in the SoCon's regular-season standings. Western Carolina, the tournament's No. 5 seed, upset No. 1 Davidson in the tournament semifinals Sunday, 99-97. Davidson finished 15-1 in conference play during the regular season and was widely considered the favorite to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

The Terriers held a 27-20 halftime lead, but Western Carolina tied the game at 27 on a James Sinclair three with 17:40 to play. The Catamounts never took the lead in the second half despite playing within one shot for several possessions, and despite the efforts of the school's chancellor, David Belcher.

Belchernuts

Wofford took its largest second-half lead at 44-33 with 8:44 left, and Western Carolina took a timeout. Western Carolina's 10-2 run brought the Catamounts right back within one possession. Brandon Boggs scored six of those points, and his backdoor dish to Tawaski King led to a wide-open dunk to make the score 46-43 with 4:13 to go.

Cochran hit a three for the Terriers to give them a 51-45 lead with 1:27 to play, but Sumler answered with a trey on the other end 10 seconds later to bring it back within three. Still clinging to a three-point lead with 29 seconds left, Wofford's Spencer Collins missed the front half of a one-and-one, but Lee Skinner grabbed an offensive rebound and was immediately fouled. He made one of two to give the Terriers a 54-50 lead.

Wofford shot 39.6 percent from the field and 7-of-15 from the foul line, but it saved itself with only four turnovers. Cochran finished with 23 points to lead all scorers.

Western Carolina, which had erased double-figure deficits in its previous two SoCon tournament games before nearly doing so Monday, was seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996.

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