South Carolina coach Frank Martin said this and wanted it in the story, so here ya go:
“Jerry Richardson is a credit to North and South Carolina. Somebody promise me you will write that.”
It was a special night for Wofford and Richardson. The most distinguished Terrier to ever suit up for the Gold and Black was there to see Wofford’s new arena, dedicated in his name, open its doors Friday night.
The only problem was the team the Terriers welcomed into its immaculate new arena just happened to have lost its last game in Phoenix last March against Gonzaga in the Final Four. When the night concluded, the beautiful new scoreboard, highlighted by its bright LED lights, read SOUTH CAROLINA 73, WOFFORD 52.
For a while, Wofford was able to stay within striking distance of the Gamecocks, but a crucial jumper by Hassani Gravett just before the halftime buzzer proved to be the turning point of the game. That extended the South Carolina lead to 33-24 and gave the Gamecocks all the momentum.
The start of the second half was when things unraveled for the Terriers. A 12-0 run by the Gamecocks prompted an early timeout from Wofford head coach Mike Young, and saw South Carolina create a little breathing room by taking its largest lead of the night, at 45-24. The lead quickly ballooned to 25.
There were some bright spots in the season opener for the Terriers, with strong play from preseason First Team All-Southern Conference selection Fletcher Magee, who led a couple of Terriers in double figures.He had 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 shooting from long range. Magee scored 15 of his 17 total points in the opening half.
Another bright spot for Young and the Terriers was the play of 6’11 center Matthew Pegram, who posted a career-high 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field, including a pair of threes. Pegram also added seven rebounds.
“What a game by that young man,” Young said of Pegram. “He can shoot the fire out of the ball even though I don’t think I have ever seen him do that in practice. He’s a guy that really started to come into his own down the stretch last season, and he is going to be a big asset for us this season.”
Meanwhile, South Carolina had four players finish the night in double figures, led by Maik Kotsar’s 13 points, while Florida Atlantic transfer Frank Booker added 12. Felipe Haase and Wesley Myers rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Gamecocks with 10 points apiece.
The Terriers were held to just 52 points in the season opener — their lowest total in a game since a 53-48 road loss to Western Carolina on Feb. 25, 2016. Wofford connected on just 35 percent (17-of-49) from the field for the night, and 32 percent (6-for-19) from three-point land.
South Carolina finished the contest shooting on 46 percent (25-of-54) from the field, and knocked down 48 percent (11-of-23) from three-point range. The Gamecocks’ bench out-scored the Terriers 28-5 and the visitors also held a 40-28 advantage on the backboards.
Despite the loss, the night belonged to Richardson and Wofford. It was a special moment for both Wofford athletics and for Richardson himself. Martin’s words summed up what was a classy evening for all involved. Richardson is indeed a credit to both North and South Carolina.