Sunday, February 1, 2015

Defense keeping Terriers in check during tough SoCon slate

As the sun rises on another day, Mike Young's Terriers stand alone atop the Southern Conference. With an unconscionable effort, Wofford shook off a demoralizing setback to The Citadel in early January to win their next five consecutive matchups. 

Lockdown defense has been the difference between a continuation of the impressive league stretch and several catastrophic losses. Not only have the Terriers held four of their last five foes under fifty points, they've held powerful conference scorers like Mercer's Ike Nwamu and UNCG's Tavon Saddler significantly below their averages (scoreless, in the latter's case). 

C.J. Neumann
grabbed eight boards
against Mercer.
The Daily Progress/
Sabrina Schaeffer
In the streak's latest installment, a 49-46 comeback victory over the SoCon-newcomer Bears, Wofford held Mercer to just twenty points in the second half, and scoreless in the final 6:49 of the contest. The Terriers actually rank twenty-third nationally in scoring defense, a mark higher than several major teams, including defending-national champion Connecticut.

Karl Cochran (114) and Lee Skinner (90) lead the squad in defensive boards; in fact, Wofford is on top of the league in defensive rebound percentage, as 73 percent of the outfit's boards are of the defensive variety.

Cochran, the senior from Marietta, Ga., also leads Wofford with twenty-one blocked shots and forty-five steals, a conference-leading mark.

The Terriers also boast the SoCon's lowest opponent three-point field goal percentage (30 percent); in fact, they only stand behind Mercer in overall shooting defense. Yesterday evening, the Terriers and Bears posted nearly identical percentages on both fronts. 

In the last five games, Wofford has allowed the following field goal shooting percentages:

Western Carolina 15-54 (27.8%) - W 62-43 
Furman 14-43 (32.6%) - W 74-49
ETSU 20-47 (42.6%) - W 72-64
UNCG 19-60 (31.7%) - W 58-42
Mercer 18-50 (36.0%) - W 49-46

Now, compare those with these numbers with The Citadel's 56.1% average shooting percentage in its three-point victory over the Terriers. Some things are obviously clicking for Wofford, which is looking towards games against ETSU and VMI later this week.

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