CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cameron Rundles scored 20 points and Wofford used stifling defense to overcome a long second-half scoring drought and beat Appalachian State 56-51 on Monday night for the Southern Conference title and its first NCAA tournament berth.
The school perhaps best known in sports circles as being the training camp home of the Carolina Panthers won its 13th straight game despite going nearly 10 minutes without a point.
The Terriers (26-8), who moved up to Division I in the mid-1990s, also got 13 rebounds from Tim Johnson to overcome 35 percent shooting.
It led to a dancing and singing celebration on the floor as Wofford set a team record for victories in a season, a year after going 16-14.
Appalachian State (22-12) shot just 29 percent as coach Buzz Peterson came up short in his bid to return the Mountaineers to the NCAA tournament in the first year of his second stint at the school.
Andrew Williamson scored 12 points and Ryann Abraham added 11 for Appalachian. But its top two scorers — Donald Sims and Kellen Brand — combined to shoot 2 of 23.
Wofford, which beat Georgia and South Carolina early in the season before winning the league regular-season title, appeared in control when Junior Salters drained a 3 on the first possession of the second half to make it 36-18.
But the Terriers then missed 14 straight shots and three free throws, not scoring again until Corey Godzinski's half-hook off an offensive rebound with 9:50 left.
Trouble was, Appalachian State was shooting so poorly itself the comeback was slow. The Mountaineers did get within 48-44 on Abraham's four-point play with 2:24 left.
But Appalachian State missed three of four free throws and Sims' fired up an airball on a 3-point attempt, allowing Wofford to hit enough free throws to hold on, while Wofford fans yelled "Let's go dancing!"
Included in the crowd was Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, a Wofford alum who put training camp there and helped financially with the school's move to Division I.
It was a bitter return to Time Warner Cable for Peterson, where he spent two seasons as director of player personnel for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.
Peterson led Appalachian to its last NCAA trip in 2000, then bolted for Tulsa. After spending a season there, he left for Tennessee for the bright lights of the Southeastern Conference.
But Peterson didn't win enough and was fired in 2005 after four seasons. He quickly took the job at low-profile Coastal Carolina, and spent two seasons there before his college roommate lured him to the NBA.
Michael Jordan, who teamed with Peterson to win the 1982 national championship at North Carolina, offered Peterson the director of player personnel job with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Peterson led the scouting department for two years, but he missed coaching. That brought him back to Appalachian State this spring for a second stint.
Turning around a team that went 13-18 last season, the Mountaineers entered the title game having won 10 of 11. But the shots wouldn't fall.
Brand, who scored a career-high 37 points in Appalachian's semifinal win, was 0 for 8 from the field. Donald Sims, who scored 30 points in the quarterfinals, shot 2 for 15.
Wofford's Noah Dahlman, who added 10 points and eight rebounds, still was voted tournament MVP.