Jan. 15, 2009
Birmingham, Ala. - Samford put five players in double figures and pulled away in the second half to hand Western Carolina a 76-64 loss Thursday night at the Pete Hanna Center.
Thursday's game was only the second time Western Carolina, ranked the No. 22 offense in the country at 80.5 points per game, scored under 68 points. The Bulldogs shot 52 percent (13 of 25) as they handed Western (8-6, 3-1 SoCon) its first loss since falling 81-78 at UNC Asheville on Dec. 31. The loss snapped WCU's three-game winning streak and relegated the Catamounts to their first conference defeat this season.
Southern Conference Player of the Week Harouna Mutombo scored a team-best 16 points to lead the Catamounts, while junior Brandon Giles added 14 in the loss. Mutombo added three steals and four rebounds. Junior Jake Robinson, who returned to the starting line-up for the first time in three games, added nine points including a pair of treys.
Coming off the bench, junior Kendall Russell gave the Catamounts an added spark, chipping in six points and a career-high nine rebounds - including five on the offensive end.
Samford led by as many as 10 in the opening 20 minutes, but Western Carolina was able to trim the deficit to a pair at intermission by holding the Bulldogs scoreless over the final three minutes of the half. The Catamounts trailed at the break, 29-27.
Out of the halftime locker room, Mutombo converted a lay-up in the paint to knot the game at 29, the second tie of the game. However, Samford responded with back-to-back buckets as a part of a 10-to-2 stretch its advantage to eight, 39-31.
Giles and Mutombo each sank consecutive baskets to pull the Catamounts even at 39, but Trey Montgomery canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Samford the lead for good. Giles buried a trey at the 7:50 mark to pull the Catamounts within two, but that was as close as the Cats would get as the Bulldogs outscored WCU 11-0 over the next three minutes to pull out to a 13-point edge en route to the win.
Samford, which improved to 6-1 at home this season, was led by center Andy King with a game-high tying 16 points, with Montgomery adding 15 points, and Josh Bedwell 14 for the Bulldogs. Bryan Friday and Josh Davis scored 10 points each for Samford (7-8, 2-4 Southern Conference), which raised its season-high point total two points. The Bulldogs scored 74 in a loss to the College of Charleston on Monday.
Western Carolina concludes its two-game road swing on Saturday night as it visits North Division foe, Chattanooga, at the McKenzie Arena, the host site of this year's SoCon Basketball Championship. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm.