Where once the Bulldogs were getting blown out, they're now losing heartbreakers.
That's progress of a sort, but Citadel basketball coach Chuck Driesell and his players are ready to win one for a change.
"We're getting better," Driesell said after a 62-55 loss to Wofford before 1,223 fans at McAlister Field House on Thursday night. "We just have to keep grinding it and learn to win these games when we have a chance."
Bo Holston scored a season- high 14 points for The Citadel (4-16, 1-8 Southern Conference), which has lost five straight, three of the last four at the wire. Wofford (13-8, 6-3) rode guard Karl Cochran, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, to win its fourth straight.
Cochran, a 6-1 freshman, made the play of the game when he skied to block an Ashton Moore layup with 36 seconds left, preserving a 59-55 lead. With UNC Greensboro's buzzer-beating slam and a double-overtime loss at Georgia Southern fresh in the memory banks, The Citadel's young roster is paying its dues.
"It's experience, decision-making, just knowing how to win close games," said Driesell, whose team lost by 19 at Wofford in December. "It's a different ball game at the end, and you've just got to be in those positions to learn from them."
Wofford coach Mike Young has that experience, with seniors Kevin Giltner (15 points), Drew Crowell (12 points, seven rebounds) and Brad Loesing (10 points) remaining from the Terriers' two NCAA tournament teams.
"We've got some old guys who've been through a lot of battles," Young said. "And some talented young guys. Cochran got us out of here tonight with big shot after big shot, and we needed them. Citadel played very well, and they are awfully close to breaking this thing through."
The first half was plain awful -- the teams combined to make 3 of 19 from 3-point range with 20 turnovers, 12 by The Citadel -- with the score knotted at 21 at the break.
The pace picked up from there, and the Bulldogs clung to a 43-40 lead with 8:19 left after a Holston trey. But a Loesing bomb and two by Cochran keyed a 15-3 Wofford run for a 55-46 lead at 4:01, and Cochran's block thwarted the Bulldogs' bid to slice the lead to two.
"We're really close, and everyone on the team knows it," said Citadel center Mike Groselle, who had 10 points and six rebounds. "It's up to us to be more solid with the ball. That's going to be the difference in winning and losing these games."
The Bulldogs will try again Saturday at 7 p.m. against visiting Furman.