SPARTANBURG -- College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins said he knew his team would need to be on its 'A' game for Thursday's crucial Southern Conference showdown at Wofford.

But the Cougars couldn't muster that type of performance as the Terriers claimed the Southern Conference South Division's No. 1 seed and the league's automatic NIT bid with a 74-68 win before a sellout crowd of 3,500 at Benjamin Johnson Arena.

The Terriers went on a 14-0 tear late in the first half to gain an eight-point halftime advantage and led by as many as 16 in the second half to improve to 22-8 and 14-3 in the Southern Conference.

Charleston, which led by six points in the first half, fell to 19-10, 13-4. The Cougars travel Saturday to Furman, which is coming off a 59-44 win over The Citadel.

"We weren't ourselves," Cremins said. "I give Wofford a lot of credit. They were tough. We missed shots and they made some great shots with the clock going down. We've been struggling a bit. I'm disappointed, but we've just got to keep going forward."

Charleston seemed comfortable in the pressure-packed atmosphere early, jumping out to a 17-11 lead with just over 11 minutes left. But Wofford stayed in the hunt and the Cougars went cold with just over five minutes left. The Terriers turned a 26-22 deficit into a 36-26 lead before Willis Hall hit a layup at the buzzer to end the lengthy Cougar scoring drought.

Charleston scored the first five points of the second half to cut Wofford's lead to 36-33, but the Terriers countered with six unanswered points. Wofford went on to take a 53-37 lead with just under nine minutes left.

Wofford continued to hold the Cougars at bay, working the shot clock and using most of the 35 seconds before either scoring or gathering in a rebound or loose ball.

"We just weren't ourselves," said Andrew Goudelock. "They were up on us on ball screens. They got the hustle points. They got all the breaks. They played really well.

"They just beat us up. Offensive rebounds. They beat us down low. You name it, they did it. They just whipped us. There's not really more you can say about it. They whipped us. It's a learning experience. We've got to come back strong."

Tony White Jr. said the Cougars' defensive lapses, especially late in the first half when Wofford went on its run, was crucial as was Wofford's tenacious defense.

"They took advantage," White said.

"They didn't allow us the open shots that other teams do. You've got to give them credit. They had a good game plan and they went out and executed on both ends of the court."

Noah Dahlman led Wofford with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Jamar Diggs had 19 points and Cameron Rundles scored 15. Tim Johnson scored five points but had 15 rebounds.

Goudelock broke out of his 3-point shooting slump, hitting 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, and led Charleston with 24 points and a team-high three assists. White was the only other Charleston player in double figures with 16 points.

"We knew were were going to have to play a great basketball game in order to win here," Cremins said. "They're a tough team. Mike (Young) has done a fabulous job with this team.

"Now, we've got to focus on Furman. We have one more game in the regular season. The kids are disappointed, but we'll keep going."

Reach Tommy Braswell at braswell@postandcourier.com.