Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina used a strong second half to knock off reigning Big South champion and NCAA Tournament participant Gardner-Webb 71-59 in the 2019-20 home opener on Saturday afternoon at the Ramsey Center.
Making his home debut, Mason Faulkner had a game and career-high 22 points along with six assists. Faulkner topped his previous career best of 21 accomplished against Georgia on Tuesday. Carlos Dotson finished in double figures with 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half, and a game-high eight rebounds. Kameron Gibson with 13 points.
Eric Jamison had 15 points to lead Gardner-Webb followed by Jose Perez with 13.
Gardner-Webb (0-2) opened the game with the first five points before the Catamounts answered with an 8-0 run to lead 8-5 following a Faulkner 3-pointer with 15:30 to go in the first half. After Jamison knotted the game at 12 with a free throw, the Catamounts went on a 5-2 run capped by a Halvorsen free throw to lead 19-14 with 5:09 in the half. WCU pushed its lead to a first-half high seven, 27-20, thanks to a Halvorsen 3-pointer with just over 90 seconds remaining, carrying a 27-22 lead into halftime. Neither team shot over 40 percent with a combined 21 turnovers in the opening stanza.
The Catamounts (1-1) opened the second half on a 5-2 spurt to lead 32-24 after a Faulkner 3-pointer at the 17:30 mark. Gardner-Webb pulled within four before the hosts pushed their advantage back to eight, 39-31, with 14 minutes remaining. WCU pushed their lead to 13 points, 51-38, with a Gibson 3-pointer at the 11:09 mark. Gardner-Webb trimmed the Catamount lead back to 10, 54-44, on a Johnson layup at the 9:30 mark but got no closer the rest of the way. WCU outscored Gardner-Webb 44-37 in the second half.
Western Carolina outrebounded Gardner-Webb 39-36. Gardner-Webb finished 24-for-57 (42.1 percent) from the field while the Catamounts went 21-for-55 (38.2 percent) shooting.
The Catamounts are back at home on Tuesday, welcoming North Carolina A&T (1-1) at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) along with free live stats through www.catamountsports.com.
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