By: James Barkley, staff writer
Excitement and anxiety hung in the air the night of Friday, Nov. 10 as the Wofford Terriers celebrated the unveiling of the new Richardson Indoor Stadium in their season opener against the South Carolina Gamecocks. This was a big night for Wofford College as this was the first time the new basketball arena opened its doors to the public for an event. This game attracted a huge crowd and seats were sold out. Students even waited outside in the cold weather the Wednesday before in hopes of getting the last 350 tickets that had been saved for current Terriers.
The energy in the stadium was electric prior to tip off as the national anthem and Wofford’s Alma Mater were sung. The lights were then dimmed and the crowd went wild as the Terriers starting five were introduced for the first time in the new stadium. As Wofford’s Coach Mike Young stated after the game, “That atmosphere was off the charts.” The players then took the court and the crowd roared as this was the moment everyone had been waiting for. The ball was tipped and the first ever game in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium was underway.
The pace was set early on as South Carolina was determined to prove that their Final Four run last year was not a fluke. The game stayed close in the opening minutes, but before too long, the Gamecocks used their size and speed to pull away from the Terriers. The first half ended with South Carolina leading the Terriers 33-24, due to South Carolina hitting seven threes in the first half with a 50% field goal percentage from behind the arc. Wofford struggled to match these numbers, as they shot 33.3% from behind the arc and only 35.7% in total field goals in the first half.
The Terriers fought hard to get back in the game during the second half, but the Gamecocks made the right adjustments at half time to deter any comebacks. The Gamecocks improved their shooting percentage in second half, shooting 51.9% from the floor and 44.4% from three.
South Carolina also made some key defensive changes during halftime, as South Carolina coach Frank Martin said post-game, “Whenever they did drive, we had to be very careful with #10 (Jackson) and #3 (Magee). In the first half, we made three mistakes on #3. One on the ball defense, we let him get to the right elbow off with his left hand, he doesn’t miss that shot, and there were two plays where we lost him and he buried those shots. In the second half we were cleaner in our coverage.”
Wofford struggled more to finish shots in the second half, as their shooting percentage fell to 33.3% and only managed to shoot 30.0% from three. When talking post-game, Coach Young said, “Could have been and should have been better at the half. Tough start to the second half, had to call a timeout and you don’t want to do that with momentum and that sort of thing. Wheels came out a little bit.”
Size was a huge factor in this game, as the Terriers were out-rebounded 40 to 28. As the game clock ran out, the Gamecocks came out on top with a score of 73-52. The Gamecocks top scorer was Maik Kotsar, putting up 13 points, and Chris Silva led the team in rebounds, gathering 10 throughout the contest. Magee led the Terriers in scoring; putting up 17 points, and Jackson grabbed 9 rebounds, leading the Terriers in that category.
This wasn’t the first time Wofford and South Carolina have faced off either. South Carolina may lead the series 43-19, but it is Wofford that still leads the series of games played in Spartanburg 12-11. The last time South Carolina traveled to Spartanburg on Dec. 19, 2009, Terriers took down the Gamecocks 68-61 in the old BenJo Arena. Though Wofford fought hard, they could not pull off the upset this time around.
The night was no short of expectations despite the loss, as the stadium welcomed a sold out crowd that included Jerry Richardson himself. Having the stadium named after him, Richardson helped provide Wofford with one of its most prestigious facilities, to which a ceremony was held for Mr. Richardson during halftime. South Carolina’s Martin even commemorated Richardson, “What Jerry Richardson has done is off the charts…for this school, for this state, it’s amazing.”
The stadium is 123,055 total square feet, seats 3,400 people and contains locker rooms and offices for men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball, and women’s lacrosse. The stadium also offers over 80 monitors throughout the building for information, way finding, and live broadcasts, a lounge area for students called the “Boneyard,” Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for student-athletes, electronic device charge areas throughout the building and four concessions stands. This basketball game against South Carolina was only the first of great events for the new stadium. Wofford welcomes two other primetime opponents, Georgia Tech on Dec. 6 and Harvard on Jan. 10, in hopes of capturing some big time wins in the new stadium.