CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Western Carolina junior Carlos Dotson tied a career-high with 27 points but VMI held off a late Catamount push to earn an 83-78 win in the Ramsey Center on Saturday night.
VMI improves to 8-20 overall and 2-14 in the Southern Conference while Western Carolina falls to 7-23 and 4-13.
Dotson’s 27 points match his career-high scoring output first set at Furman on Dec. 1. Dotson posted his 12th double-double of the season after grabbing a team-best 12 rebounds. Marcus Thomas finished with 21 points, his third game this season with 20-plus points. Onno Steger had his second career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Senior Marc Gosselin as well as two senior managers were honored prior to the contest.
Bubba Parham led VMI with 38 points. Parham went 13-for-26 from the field and 8-for-11 at the free throw line. Myles Lewis and Garrett Gilkeson both had 15 points. Lewis led the Keydets with 12 rebounds.
Kameron Gibson’s 3-pointer 34 seconds into the game opened the scoring before the Keydets pulled ahead, 4-3 on a Lewis bucket at the 18:09 mark. Following a Gosselin 3-pointer that gave the hosts an 11-10 advantage with just over 12 minutes remaining, VMI went on a 12-4 run to lead 22-15 after a Parham 3-pointer with 9:13 remaining. Western Carolina charged back with a 14-4 run as a Dotson layup gave the hosts a 29-26 lead just inside the five-minute mark. The Catamounts led by no fewer than three points for the rest of the opening stanza and led 43-39 at halftime.
A Steger three-point play with 18:53 left in the second half gave the Catamounts their largest lead of the game at eight points, 49-41. A pair of 3-pointers by Parham and Sarju Patel along with a Gilkeson dunk tied the game at 49 before Gibson gave the Catamounts a 51-49 lead at the 16:14 mark. VMI took the lead for good thanks to a Gilkeson 3-pointer with just under 15 minutes remaining. The Keydets extended their lead to a game-high nine points, 62-53, following a Lewis free throw with 11 minutes remaining.
Trailing 66-57, a Dotson free throw sparked an 11-4 Catamount run as the Catamounts pulled within two, 70-68, with 5:24 to play. The Keydet lead fluctuated between three and six points before Thomas’ three-point play brought the Catamounts within two, 80-78, with 33 seconds remaining. Gilkeson was fouled on the next Keydet possession and made two free throws as the Catamounts had two missed shots along with a blocked shot on their final three possessions to conclude the contest.
VMI finished 29-for-65 (44.6 percent) from the field while the Catamounts went 28-for-67 (41.8 percent). The Keydets shot 51.9 percent from the field in the second half while holding WCU to a 36.4 shooting percentage in the second half. Western Carolina outrebounded VMI 43-40.
Western Carolina wraps up the regular season on Saturday, March 2 at ETSU. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.