Hoover hits 9 3s, Wofford takes down South Carolina 81-61
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Wofford used South Carolina’s rocky starts to each half and 30 points from Nathan Hoover to rout the Gamecocks 81-61 Monday.
The Gamecocks (3-3) knew they had to defend All-America candidate Fletcher Magee and did, holding him to eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. Hoover’s name was also starred on the scouting report but once his first shot went in, he didn’t stop shooting.
Hoover hit nine 3-pointers on his way to 30 points, each a career-high. Matched up with South Carolina freshman star A.J. Lawson, Hoover took advantage of his experience.
“It’s great to get this feeling that we can go on the road and get this win, but the biggest thing it shows is how together we are as a team,” Hoover said. “It’s just us there, because we’re such a great team. This just builds our confidence going forward.”
The Gamecocks trailed 19-6 in the first and 44-31 in the second before they found their offense, but the Terriers always seemed to have an answer. Magee, held scoreless in the first half due to tight defense from South Carolina’s Hassani Gravett, scored eight points out of the locker room to give Wofford (5-2) a double-digit lead.
Like it did in the first half, South Carolina (3-3) came back but couldn’t quite get ahead. The Gamecocks got within two points with 11 minutes to play but Wofford scored the next seven points. Chris Silva struggled again with just eight points and Lawson collected four fouls with no points.
“Anything that had to do with physicality, we got beat. We got beat by a better team, that’s the bottom line,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “Our big guys do not score the ball in the paint. They don’t even know what plays they’re supposed to run, and that’s not on them, that’s on me.”
South Carolina was led by 13 points each from Maik Kotsar and Felipe Haase. The Gamecocks were outrebounded 43-37 and were blistered 16-6 in transition.
Wofford: The Terriers are confident with their entire starting five back and knowing if they can win at North Carolina, which they did last season, they can win anywhere. They’re shaping up for a run at the Southern Conference title.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have a young team and still haven’t fielded a full roster due to injuries. Yet their offensive picture is murky with Silva and three-year starter Maik Kotsar continuing to not play to expectation and their defense, counting on shutting down Wofford by shutting down Magee, was roasted by Hoover.
Martin wasn’t kidding in the preseason when he said he had more bad luck with injuries at South Carolina than anywhere else he’s been. Sophomore guard Justin Minaya, who usually defends the opponent’s best player, missed the game with a knee injury and is out indefinitely.
HE SAID IT
Martin took South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017 but barely scraped to a winning season last year and is 3-3 to start this year. The schedule for a newcomer-laced team only gets harder.
“It’s always about us and getting ready for conference play. The idea is to get your team ready for league play,” Martin said. “Obviously, you can’t keep losing. But at the end of the day, it’s about competing to go get your league.”
Wofford begins conference play Saturday with a home game against East Tennessee State before playing five straight non-conference games. The Terriers will take on No. 2 Kansas and No. 25 Mississippi State during the stretch.
South Carolina continues its in-state opponent tour Friday when Coastal Carolina visits. The Gamecocks then head out for a game at Wyoming and another at No. 7 Michigan.