Tallahassee, Fla. – Western Carolina redshirt junior Mason Faulkner scored a game-high 21 points, but a layup by Florida State’s Patrick Williams put the Seminoles ahead for good with 45 seconds remaining as they rallied for a 79-74 victory Friday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Faulkner scored 21 points including a perfect 7-for-7 mark at the free throw line and dished out seven assists. The Glasgow, Ky., native has finished with 20-plus points in three of his four games at WCU and posted a triple-double in the other. Sophomore Kameron Gibson finished with 15 points followed by Carlos Dotson with 11 while also grabbing eight rebounds, six on the defensive glass, to lead WCU.
M.J. Walker and Williams both scored 18 points to lead the Seminoles. Trent Forrest (16) and Devin Vassell (10) also finished in double figures. Malik Osbrone grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for FSU in its home opener.
Forrest sank a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the game as the hosts scored the first seven points of the contest. After Osbrone’s jumper gave the hosts a 9-2 lead at the 16:37 mark, the Catamounts answered with a 9-2 run, taking their first lead of the game, 13-11, after Faulkner completed a three-point play.
Florida State (2-1) tied the contest on its next possession before a Gibson 3-pointer ignited a 17-3 run capped by a Matt Halvorsen 3-pointer with 7:00 to go in the half that gave the Catamounts a 30-16 lead. Adam Sledd’s layup with 4:30 in the period remaining put the Catamounts up a game-high 17 points, 38-21. FSU closed the half on a 15-5 run as a Forrest dunk made the halftime score 43-36 in favor of WCU. The Catamounts finished 51.6 percent (16-for-31) shooting in the first half and made seven of 14 3-point attempts.
Western Carolina’s lead in the first four minutes of the second half oscillated between eight and 11 points. Faulkner’s layup with just over 15 minutes left put WCU up nine, 53-44, but the Seminoles crept within four, 57-53, thanks to a Walker 3-pointer at the 11:32 mark. Western Carolina (2-2) continued to lead by no more than six points until a Vassell layup knotted the game at 68 with just under four minutes left.
The teams traded baskets for the next four possessions until Williams sank a free throw to put the hosts up 73-72 with 2:36 remaining and their first lead since the 12:40 mark of the first half. Dotson answered to put the Catamounts back ahead 74-73 with his layup with 57 seconds left with Williams giving FSU a one-point advantage thanks to his layup. With four seconds left, Faulkner had a field goal attempt that would have brought the Catamounts within one rattle out of the rim as the Seminoles grabbed the defensive rebound and Walker hit free throws to secure the win.
The Seminoles outrebounded WCU 32-31. Both teams committed 14 turnovers. Western Carolina held a 32-28 edge in points in the paint.
WCU remains on the road next week, traveling to Jacksonville on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Stetson on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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