Cancun, Mexico – Carlos Dotson finished with his second straight double-double but Jacksonville State used a big run in the early stages of the second half to defeat Western Carolina 84-53 in the opening game for the Mayan Division in the 2018 Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
Jacksonville State improves to 1-3 while Western Carolina drops to 1-4.
Dotson recorded 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the 2018-19 season. Matt Halvorsen led the Catamounts with 17 points. Both Dotson and Halvorsen have finished in double figures in four of five games this season.
Jamall Gregory and Derek St. Hilaire both had 15 points to lead Jacksonville State. Christian Cunningham finished with 11 points followed by De’Torrion Ware with 10. Cunningham and Jason Burnell each had four rebounds.
A Marlon Hunter jumper 15 seconds into the game opened the scoring before Dotson tied the contest on a layup at the 19:27 mark. Jacksonville State led 8-4 before a Halvorsen 3-pointer brought the Catamounts to within one, 8-7, with 15:56 left. A St. Hilaire jumper gave the Gamecocks an 18-11 lead but the Catamounts answered with a Josh Cottrell 3-pointer and a Maurice Smith layup to pull within two, 18-16. Halvorsen sank a 3-pointer to even the contest at 22 at the 5:55 mark before Jacksonville State responded with an 11-0 run for a 33-22 advantage with just over a minute to play in the half. Smith’s tip-in with two seconds left sent the Catamounts into halftime down nine, 33-24.
The Catamounts opened the second half on a 7-2 run as a Halvorsen 3-pointer with 17:12 to play brought WCU within four, 35-31. Jacksonville State countered with a 21-0 run capped by a pair of Burnell free throws for a 56-31 lead with 12:16 left. WCU got no closer than 23 points for the remainder of the contest.
Jacksonville State went 32-for-62 (51.6 percent) from the field while Western Carolina finished 21-for-56 (37.5 percent) from the field. The Catamounts outrebounded Jacksonville State 43-26 but also committed 35 turnovers.
Western Carolina will face either Southern Mississippi or North Florida on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Mayan Division third place game.