Mike Groselle and P.J. Horgan are best buddies, Citadel teammates who share a similar world view (they are both 6-foot-8), interests (both engineering majors) and housing (they split an off-campus place during the summer).
Their friendship is starting to pay dividends for the Bulldogs’ basketball team as well. The duo combined for 40 points and 17 rebounds Thursday night as The Citadel won at home for the first time since Nov. 17, taking a 69-63 decision from Wofford before 1,774 fans at McAlister Field House.
Groselle, a senior, scored 24 points with seven rebounds, while the sophomore Horgan chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double. Add in 10 points from freshman Matt Van Scyoc and a career-best 10 assists from guard Marshall Harris, and The Citadel snapped an 11-game skid against the Terriers.
Against a young Wofford frontline, Groselle and Horgan had their way, combining to hit 16 of 25 shots from the field and 8 of 12 free throws.
“In our offense, one can complement the other,” said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell, whose team is 5-15 overall and 2-8 in the Southern Conference. “P.J. gives us a nice presence in the high post, and Mike is getting better at that. But they like each other, they like passing to each other and they have a good feel for each other’s games.”
Perhaps the key play of the game came with the Bulldogs clinging to a 61-58 lead in the final five minutes. Groselle bounced a nifty pass to Horgan, who twirled in a bucket as he was fouled. The free throw made it 64-58 with 3:59 left.
“We have a good connection, and we really play well off each other,” Groselle said.
Wofford coach Mike Young knew he’d have his hands full with the pair.
“Mike has played a lot of ball in this league, and played it quite well,” he said. “Horgan gives them another dimension with his size. That’s a pretty good frontline, a darn good frontline.”
Groselle was charged with seven turnovers and the Bulldogs had 17 in all, the only reason Wofford (8-14, 2-7) was able to stay in this one. The Citadel shot 56.5 percent (to Wofford’s 39.3) and out-rebounded the Terriers, 34-26.
“When we’re not turning the ball over, we have a great chance to score,” said Harris, who leads the SoCon in assists with five per game.
Groselle pilfered a missed free throw and scored for a 66-58 lead with 3:28 left, but then the Bulldogs turned it over three straight times, allowing Wofford to cut the gap to 66-63 with 1:18 left. The Terriers missed their final four shots, and the Bulldogs made 3 of 4 free throws to ice their first home win over Wofford since 2002.
“It feels great,” said Horgan. “We had not beat Wofford in (five) years, so some of our guys had never beat them. A great feeling.”
The Terriers, with 12 freshmen and sophomores, have lost 8 of 10 since a 56-55 upset of Xavier on Dec. 22. Sophomore Karl Cochran had 15 points, but the Terriers were 5 of 24 from 3-point range.
“Where we’ve been as a program, we’re supposed to win,” said Young, who took the Terriers to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011. “I don’t care how young you are, or this and that, you’ve got to win games. And we certainly haven’t handled things well of late.”
The Citadel plays Saturday at Furman, an 81-74 winner over Georgia Southern on Thursday.