Athens, Ga. – Making his Western Carolina debut, redshirt junior forward Mason Faulkner scored a team-leading 21 points, but Georgia used a mid-second half run to top the Catamounts 91-72 on Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia is 1-0 while Western Carolina is 0-1.
Senior Carlos Dotson recorded his 14th career double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds, one rebound shy of tying a career-high. Senior Onno Steger just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Kameron Gibson finished in double figures with 12 points.
Anthony Edwards scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Bulldogs. Sahvir Wheeler had 19 points followed by Tyree Crump with 14. Rayshaun Hammonds had a team-best 12 rebounds.
A jumper by Amanze Ngumezi was the first basket of the game before the Catamounts tied the game on a Gibson jumper and pulled ahead 4-2 with a Dotson layup at the 18:11 mark. The teams were knotted at 6 at the first media timeout and stayed within two points of each other until a Crump 3-pointer gave the hosts a 12-8 lead before a Gibson 3-pointer and a Xavier Cork layup put the Catamounts back on top, 13-12, with just under 13 minutes remaining.
Edwards hit two free throws to give the hosts a 21-19 lead only to have the Catamounts answer with a Cork free throw and a Faulkner triple to lead 23-21 with just over seven minutes to play. Gibson’s 3-pointer with 4:35 remaining put the Catamounts on top 30-27 but the Bulldogs answered with a 7-0 run for a 34-30 lead with 3:26 left. WCU went on an 8-2 run to close the half as a Dotson free throw with under a second left sent the Catamounts into halftime ahead 38-37.
Wheeler’s layup at the 19:08 mark opened the second half scoring before Faulkner answered with a 3-pointer on the ensuing Catamount possession. The teams traded the lead two additional times before a Dotson free throw evened the score at 46 before the under-16 media timeout. After a Faulkner 3-pointer boosted WCU ahead 49-46, Georgia answered with a 6-0 run to lead 53-49 after a Christian Brown layup with 12:30 left. After a Faulkner 3-pointer put the Catamounts ahead 58-57 with just over nine minutes left, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to lead 65-57 inside of eight minutes to play.
Steger drained a 3-pointer and made a layup on the next WCU possession to bring the visitors within two, 65-63, with 6:44 to play. Georgia answered the Catamounts with a 14-2 run capped by an Edwards three-point play to lead 79-65 with 2:25 remaining. Travion McCray completed a three-point play with 58 seconds left to bring the Catamounts within 11, 83-72, but the Catamounts would get no closer.
The game featured 12 ties and 20 lead changes. Georgia held a 52-41 edge in rebounds.
Western Carolina hosts NCAA Tournament qualifier Gardner-Webb in its home opener on Saturday at Noon as part of a doubleheader with the Catamount football team which hosts ETSU in the “Blue Ridge Border Battle” at 3:30 pm. Fans holding football tickets can gain free admission to the basketball contest by showing their ticket at the Ramsey Center doors. As part of Heroes Day festivities, the first 400 students who are seated in the student section (Section J-K) will receive a free camo WCU hat courtesy of Pepsi.
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