Wofford wins 2nd straight SoCon title, NCAA berth
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 1:29 AM
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The Wofford Terriers have a confidence born in the crunch of March.
With a Southern Conference tournament title to defend and a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament on the line, they refused to let it slip out of their hands.
Cameron Rundles scored 21 points to send Wofford to a second straight NCAA tournament berth with a 77-67 victory over College of Charleston in the league championship Monday night.
"We are tickled to death to go back to back in this league, any league, is beyond difficult, and we did it and we are beyond excited," Wofford coach Mike Young said.
Wofford (21-12) lost both regular season games to the Cougars. But the Terriers won their eighth straight game in part because they were perfect at the free throw line until the final minute, hitting their first 20 shots.
"We're not a cocky bunch, but nobody beat us," Rundles said. "I mean in March, nobody has beat us yet in the Southern Conference tournament in two years."
That didn't stop them celebrating.
Noah Dahlman, who scored 20 points, threw the ball so high at the horn it landed atop the scoreboard atop the court. Rundles hugged a teammate tightly, and later the three busloads of students along with the baseball team in the stands chanted "Let's go dancing" over and over.
Charleston (24-10) missed its first NCAA berth since 1999 and coach Bobby Cremins' first since he last took Georgia Tech to the NCAA regional semifinals in 1996. The Cougars came in as the South Division's top seed thanks to those two wins over Wofford in the regular season.
"I thought they were the team to beat," Cremins said. "They were the hottest team coming in here. It was a great game there for a while. Then it got a little bit away from us."
Young credited the win to his "Minnesota Mafia." Dahlman is from Braham while Rundles and Jamar Diggs, who had 17 points, are from Minneapolis. The trio had played each other in youth basketball and later high school before Dahlman convinced Young to let the other two join them at Wofford.
"It just kind of stuck a little bit because we're all tough guys," Dahlman said of the nickname. "Being from the Midwest, we're not flashy at all. We use our game. We're going to grind it out, and it paid off tonight. These guys paid dividends for this program."