Nathan Hoover struggled with confidence just once Monday night — when he was leaving the post-game news conference.
After the Wofford guard had the game of his life at South Carolina’s expense, he hesitated about taking a Dasani water bottle with him for the trip back to Spartanburg.
“That’s your water,” Wofford coach Mike Young told Hoover. “That’s what happens when you come to a place like this.”
Drink up, Hoover. You earned it. The Terriers owned the Gamecocks at their place, whipping USC, 81-61, at Colonial Life Arena and adding another layer of misery to USC’s early season.
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It’s almost December and the South Carolina (3-3) has yet to win consecutive games. Hoover’s career-high 30 points made the biggest difference Monday.
“At the end of the day, we were outscored in one matchup, 30-0,” said Carolina coach Frank Martin. “A.J. Lawson and No. 10 (Hoover). That was the matchup to start the game. A.J. makes three consecutive mistakes, No. 10 makes us pay right off the bat.
“And when a good shooter gets going, it’s over.”
The Terriers, winners last year against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, led 19-6 in the first half. They started the second half on a 12-1 run.
After cutting the lead to seven with 5:40 to play, USC allowed Hoover’s eighth 3-pointer of the game. Carolina was never within single digits again. Hoover finished 9 of 12 from deep. USC was 7 of 25.
“I don’t know how we allowed him to get so many touches on open shots,” said USC guard Hassani Gravett. “So we failed on that.”
Gravett was busy holding Fletcher Magee to eight points on 3 of 15 shooting. The Gamecocks were able to contain Wofford’s best player, but their own top options struggled.
Lawson, coming off being named SEC Freshman of the Week, missed all five of his field goal attempts and was held scoreless for the first time in his career. Chris Silva, a preseason All-SEC pick, had eight points and four fouls.
“We got beat by a better team, period,” Martin said. “End of story.”
This is USC’s worst six-game start since going 3-3 to begin 2014-15.
Star of the game: Keyshawn Bryant’s energy gave the Gamecocks life in crucial stretches of both halves, but it was Gravett who kept USC afloat early. What’s the halftime score if Magee has his usual numbers? Wofford led 28-25 at the break, and Magee, who averages 18.5 points a game, was 0-for-7 from the floor with zero points. Gravett was relentless in his defensive approach against one of college basketball’s best shooters.
Play of the game: With 9:25 left in the second half, Hoover completed a four-point that put the finishing touches on an 11-2 after the Gamecocks cut the lead to two.
Stat of the game: South Carolina’s inconsistent 3-point shooting continued. A game after hitting their first seven 3s, the Gamecocks missed 12 of their first 13.
Moss starts second half: After scoring two points in nine minutes, Tre Campell found himself on the bench to start the second half. The senior was replaced by freshman T.J. Moss.
No Minaya: South Carolina played without Justin Minaya (knee injury) for just the second time since the sophomore came to USC as a three-star prospect from Harrington Park, New Jersey. The swingman’s been a staple in Martin’s lineup, starting 35 of the 37 game he’s been available for. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in his career while serving as Carolina’s most trusted perimeter defender.
Gravett started in Minaya’s place.
No Frink: The Gamecocks had nine scholarship players available as Alanzo Frink joined Minaya on the bench.
Frink, a 6-6 freshman forward, was expected to make his USC debut Monday, but remained sidelined with a knee injury, despite going through light warm-ups.
“If today was the last game of the season, SEC play, postseason,” Martin said, “he’s probably healthy enough to play today. But he’s a young kid. No sense to rush him back.”
Who: South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC Network
WOFFORD 81, SOUTH CAROLINA 61
Aluma 5-6 0-4 10, Jackson 5-9 0-1 10, Hoover 9-15 3-3 30, Larson 4-4 1-2 9, Magee 3-15 0-0 8, Goodwin 1-2 2-2 4, Pegram 0-4 0-0 0, Hollowell 4-10 0-0 10. Totals 31-65 6-12 81.
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-3)
Kotsar 4-12 3-5 13, Silva 3-8 2-4 8, Lawson 0-5 0-0 0, Gravett 3-7 3-4 11, Campbell 1-6 2-2 4, Bryant 2-4 3-3 7, Haase 4-7 2-2 13, Moss 2-7 1-2 5. Totals 19-57 16-22 61.
Halftime: Wofford 28-25. 3-Point Goals_Wofford 13-29 (Hoover 9-12, Hollowell 2-6, Magee 2-11), South Carolina 7-25 (Haase 3-6, Kotsar 2-3, Gravett 2-5, Lawson 0-3, Moss 0-4, Campbell 0-4). Fouled Out_Aluma. Rebounds_Wofford 40 (Aluma, Magee 8), South Carolina 35 (Kotsar 10). Assists: Wofford 17 (Larson 8), South Carolina 12 (Moss 3). Total Fouls_Wofford 22, South Carolina 16.