BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Onno Steger and Marcus Thomas each finished with 21 points, but Samford held off a late Western Carolina rally as the Bulldogs earned a 92-81 win on Saturday afternoon at the Pete Hanna Center.
Samford improves to 14-10 overall and 4-7 in the Southern Conference while Western Carolina drops to 6-18 and 3-8.
Steger posted his first career double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. He went 7-for-17 from the field and 5-for-10 from behind the 3-point line before fouling out with just over four minutes remaining. Marcus Thomas scored 21 points off the bench, converting 8 of 14 field goal attempts. Kameron Gibson finished with 17 points with Carlos Dotson in double figures with 13 points.
Myron Gordon led Samford with a game-high 25 points. Kevion Nolan scored 19 points followed by Brandon Austin with 18 and Josh Sharkey with 11. Sharkey tallied a double-double with a game-high 12 assists.
Following a Dotson layup that opened the scoring, Samford went on a 16-0 run capped by a Nolan 3-pointer at the 13:16 mark. Western Carolina trimmed the deficit to nine points, 16-7, with a Gibson 3-pointer with 12:37 to play. Samford answered with 10 straight points for a 26-7 advantage just shy of the midway point. Samford held a half-best 22-point lead, 40-18, following two Sharkey free throws with 4:53 remaining. The Catamounts used a 9-0 run capped by a Steger 3-pointer to pull within 13, 44-31, with just over a minute to play in the frame. A Logan Dye dunk sent the Bulldogs into halftime with a 49-34 lead.
Consecutive baskets by Dotson to open the second half brought the Catamounts within 11, 49-38, at the 18:25 mark. The Bulldogs answered with a 13-4 run capped by a Gordon 3-pointer to lead 62-42 with 13:46 remaining. Austin’s dunk with 11:24 left gave the Bulldogs a game-high 25-point lead, 72-47 as Samford led by no fewer than 18 points over the course of the next five minutes.
Following an Allen free throw with 6:09 to play that gave the hosts an 84-62 lead, the Catamounts went on an 8-0 run to trail by 14 heading into the final media timeout. After a Sharkey layup gave Samford an 88-73 lead with just over three minutes to play, the Catamounts trimmed the deficit to 10 points with two Gibson free throws with 91 seconds left but would get no closer.
Samford finished 35-for-58 (60.3 percent) from the field, 10-for-20 (50.0 percent) behind the 3-point line and 12-for-18 (66.7 percent) at the free throw line. Western Carolina shot 29-for-64 (45.3 percent) from the field, 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) behind the arc and 12-for-16 (75.0 percent) at the free throw line. WCU outrebounded Samford 35-29.
The Catamounts host Furman on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader with the women's team.