Feb. 2, 2011
Elon, N.C. -
Western Carolina put four players in double figures led by 20 points from senior Mike Williams and the second career double-double for his classmate Richie Gordon as the Catamounts led wire-to-wire in the 74-58 road Southern Conference victory at the Alumni Gymnasium. With the victory, WCU sweeps the regular season series with Elon, the first since 2005.
WCU used a strong defensive effort to limit the Phoenix to a season-low 29.8-percent shooting from the floor and just a 4-for-25 (16-percent) showing beyond the 3-point arc to score its first road victory since Jan. 5. Elon, which dropped its third straight game, entered the game ranked atop the SoCon - and fourth in the nation - averaging nearly 10 made 3-pointers per contest.
"I was really pleased with our defensive effort and intensity tonight," said Hunter during post-game comments on the Catamount Sports Network. "I felt that Mike (Williams) hit some really big shots for us in both halves, and Richie (Gordon) was very good late in the second half for us. We got some really key rebounds that limited their chances."
Williams converted half of his shot opportunities in the win, shooting 8-of-16 with two 3-pointers and two assists to pace the Catamounts. Gordon scored 17 points with 10 rebounds for the double-double, adding three assists and a pair of steals. Freshman Brandon Boggs finished with 13 points while Harouna Mutombo tallied 11 to round out WCU's double-digit scorers, just missing a double-double with nine rebounds.
Preston Ross added seven points while Trey Sumler scored six and dished out five assists.
Western Carolina (10-13, 6-5 SoCon) took advantage of a sluggish shooting start by the Phoenix to grab a seven-point, 15-8, lead inside the game's first 10 minutes. Elon opened the game just 3-of-15 from the floor before freshman Jack Isenbarger connected on consecutive 3-pointers to make it a three-point game, 17-14.
Holding Elon to just one field goal over a near four-minute stretch, the Catamounts managed to pull ahead 32-20 with 4:12 to go before the break, taking an eight-point, 37-29, lead into the halftime locker room.
Drew Spradlin drained a 3-pointer to open the second half to pull Elon within five points, 37-32, but the Catamounts answered with an eight-point spurt to regain a double-digit advantage, 45-32, at the 16:46 mark. The Phoenix counterpunched with six-straight points to close back with seven, 45-38, but Western Carolina outscored the home squad 16-to-5 to take an 18-point advantage on a Williams' jumper at the 8:51 mark.
During the run, Gordon and Williams both scored six while Boggs added a two-handed slam dunk.
Elon managed a 12-3 run capped by a 3-pointer to trim the Catamount edge to single digits, 64-55, with 5:25 remaining, but the Catamounts were able to hold off the challenge, making 6-of-8 free throws over the final two minutes to seal the victory.
Freshman forward Lucas Troutman led Elon with a career-high 23 points including nine from the free throw line on 9-of-15 shooting from the stripe. Spradlin and Chris Long added 10 points apiece for Elon in the loss.
Despite Troutman's performance in the post, WCU outscored Elon 36-to-18 in the paint and were able to convert Elon's seven turnovers into a dozen points. The Catamounts also commanded the boards to the tune of 47-to-34 including 14 offensive rebounds in the win.
Western Carolina opens a three-game home stand against SoCon North Division teams this weekend as it hosts UNC Greensboro in the Ramsey Center. Tip-off is set for 2:00 pm. WCU will welcome home former men's basketball players on Alumni Day. The Catamounts swept UNCG a season ago earning its fourth-straight victory over the Spartans to mark the longest consecutive win streak for either side in the series.
- Western Carolina halted a five-game winless drought in road games played at Elon, capturing its first win at Alumni Gym since 2005 ... the Catamounts also swept the Phoenix during the regular season for the first time since '05 ... WCU's win ended Elon's three-game home win streak ... the victory was Western's fourth away from home this season;
- Mike Williams scored 20 points at Elon marking his sixth 20-or-more point performance at Western Carolina ... Prior to Wednesday night, WCU had only one win in the five previous times he had surpassed 20 points coming last season at Louisville ... WCU is now 2-4 when Williams scores 20-or-more points in a game;
- In five career games against Elon, Williams is averaging 15 points per game ... Harouna Mutombo has averaged 14 points per game in seven meetings with the Phoenix;
- Western Carolina (6-5) remains in second place in the Southern Conference North Division after Wednesday night's win ... In the only other game played on the night, Appalachian State (5-7) survived against UNC Greensboro (4-7) in overtime to split the regular season series and move ahead of the Spartans into third place in the SoCon North Division, a game and a half behind WCU ... UNCG is fourth followed by Elon (4-8) and Samford (3-7);
- In SoCon North Division action on Thursday, Chattanooga visits Georgia Southern and Samford visits Davidson ... South Division-leading Wofford hosts the College of Charleston on ESPNU while The Citadel visits Furman;
- WCU head coach Larry Hunter secured career win No. 591 Wednesday night at Elon.