The SoCon's Wofford Terriers have earned a reputation as a dog with a lot of bite in recent years, but have struggled early in the current season having lost some major components of their repeat NCAA team from 2011 under able tutelage from Mike Young.
The Bradley Braves had hosted the Terriers once before, in 2009, in a tightly contested contest that was won by Bradley only at the very end by two points.
From the start, the Terriers administered a clinic against Bradley, forcing them into taking ill-advised shots, with the Braves best option coming from the dribble-drive. The patient squad from Wofford did not concede many open opportunities and frankly, when the Braves did have theirs, they could not convert on empty possession after empty possession.
On the other hand, the Terriers brought a Gilt-edged roster of five seniors into the contest, led by top returning scorers Brad Loesing and Kevin Giltner. Giltner's performance was emblematic of his name, connecting for five three-pointers on the way to 29 points and senior forward Drew Crowell provided six offensive boards to further fuel the opportunities for Wofford.
The five seniors for Wofford combined for 50 points and added nine assists. That is what seniors bring to the table in tight games: Little things that produce successful possessions and an ability to close. Also, the Terrier defense would hold Bradley's Jordan Prosser to 0-for-eight on field goal attempts.
Nevertheless, despite running out front by nine on several occasions and even pushing it to double digits, the full court pressure applied by the Braves forced 18 turnovers and the Terriers fouled 19 times to allow 22 charity chances.
A favorite halftime act, Quick Change failed to inspire the same thing on the basketball court as both halves were pretty identical, with Bradley forcing key turnovers to nab possession with a chance to draw level, but turned it over on their own accord to fall short, the final margin 70-66, with Wofford pushing it to foul on free throws after Bradley's failed last possession.
The direction of seasons can sometimes be shaped in games such as this, where little details certainly do make the difference on which side of the W-L the game appears in the final record.
Both teams head to the Chicago Invitational Challenge this weekend in Hoffman Estates, Illinois and Wofford will have a good opportunity to move to the positive side of the ledger and the Braves will face the upper level bracket hoping to stay on the winning side of things, starting with Wisconsin.
WOFFORD 70, at BRADLEY 66 11/22/2011
WOFFORD 2-2 (0-0) -- K. Giltner 11-17 2-4 29; B. Loesing 3-10 2-2 9; L. Skinner 0-2 0-1 0; K. Cochran 4-16 0-0 12; D. Crowell 6-9 0-3 12; D. Rinksalis 2-3 0-0 4; J. Swinton 0-1 0-0 0; A. Smith 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 28-61 4-10 70. BRADLEY 3-1 (0-0) -- T. Brown 5-14 4-4 16; W. Lemon Jr 5-11 4-10 14; D. Simms-Edwards 8-16 4-6 22; J. Prosser 0-8 2-2 2; J. Eastman 3-7 0-0 6; C. Woods 0-2 0-0 0; A. Thompson 3-4 0-0 6; S. Shayok 0-0 0-0 0; J. Crawford 0-0 0-0 0; M. Knezevic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 14-22 66.
Three-point goals: WOFF 10-23 (K. Giltner 5-8; B. Loesing 1-4; K. Cochran 4-11), BRAD 4-17 (T. Brown 2-6; J. Eastman 0-3; C. Woods 0-1; D. Simms-Edwards 2-6; W. Lemon 0-1); Rebounds: WOFF 44 (D. Crowell 10), BRAD 36 (T. Brown 11); Assists: WOFF 16 (B. Loesing 8), BRAD 13 (T. Brown 4); Total Fouls -- WOFF 19, BRAD 15; Fouled Out: WOFF-None; BRAD-None.