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Catamounts Unable to Complete Comeback, Fall at ASU, 74-65

Sophomore James Sinclair finished with a career-high 17 points in Saturday's road loss at Appalachian State. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

Feb. 2, 2013

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Boone, N.C. - Western Carolina sophomore James Sinclair converted an up-and-under lay-up with two minutes remaining in regulation, pulling the Catamounts to within one point, 65-64. However, Appalachian State weathered the WCU rally, outscoring the visitors 9-to-1 to close the game to hold on for the 74-65 victory in Southern Conference play at the Holmes Center.

Trailing the entire game, WCU nearly erased all of a 14-point second half deficit as Sinclair avoided the Mountaineer shot blockers with an athletic move under the right side of the rim to score off the glass from the left side. With the Catamounts within a point, ASU's Nathan Healy got free for an open 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to stretch it back to a two-possession, four-point game.

Tawaski King converted 1-of-2 from the free throw line to pull WCU back within three, 68-65, with 1:19 remaining. A Mountaineer turnover on the ensuing possession again put the ball back in the Catamounts' hands, but a giveaway by WCU created by a poke check by Healy ended the Catamounts' threat.

Appalachian hit four from the free throw line and added a break-away dunk by Healy to seal the victory.

Healy led all scorers with 24 points including four made 3-pointers while Jay Canty scored 19 with five assists. Jamaal Trice chipped in nine points off the bench for the Mountaineers.

For the Catamounts, redshirt junior Trey Sumler returned to double figures with a team-high 21 points, scoring 17 in the second half. Sinclair finished with a career-high 17 points while Tawaski King just missed the double-double with nine points and nine rebounds including three on the offensive end. Classmate Preston Ross finished with six points and eight boards as WCU outrebounded ASU, 35-to-28.

Appalachian State (9-12, 5-5 SoCon) blitzed the Catamounts out of the opening gates, racing to an eight-point edge with a 12-to-4 run to open the game. WCU was able to claw back within four points twice in the opening 20 minutes, but the Mountaineers built a 14-point first half edge and enjoyed a 12-point, 41-29, lead at halftime.

App shot 53.6-percent in the first half, connecting on five 3-pointers while WCU was held to just 39.3-percent from the floor and only 1-of-5 shooting from long range.

Out of the halftime locker room, the Catamounts got right back in the game with a 13-to-5 start with Sinclair capping the run with a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game, 46-42, just five minutes into the second half. The Mountaineers were able to stem the tide, though, and led by 11, 56-45, with nine minutes to play.

Sinclair again pulled WCU to within one possession with a made jumper from the right baseline making it a three-point game, 65-62. However, with the game in the proverbial balance, the Catamounts were unable to take control. The squads traded missed jumpers before the Apps missed four-straight - the second two awarded after an offensive rebound off a missed charity toss. Sinclair made it a one-point game on the next possession, setting up the ending.

Western Carolina continues its current three-game road swing with a pair of meetings with SoCon South Division foes. The Catamounts travel to Davidson on Thursday, Feb. 7 before visiting Georgia Southern on Saturday, Feb. 9. WCU looks to even both regular season meetings.

Western Carolina at Appalachian State - Post-Game Notes:
* Saturday's loss at Appalachian State halted a two-game winning streak for WCU in the all-time series and prevented the regular season sweep of the Mountaineers, splitting the two annual meetings for the 12th time since 1977 ... It was the second-straight road loss in Boone for WCU in the all-time series;

* WCU was relegated to its third-straight loss, matching its longest winless drought of the season;

* Appalachian State shot 52.9-percent from the floor on Saturday - the third-straight opponent to shoot better than 50-percent for the game against the Catamounts;

* Trey Sumler finished with a team-high 21 points against Appalachian State on Saturday afternoon marking his 13th career game with 20-or-more points including his ninth 20-point performance this season;

* Sophomore James Sinclair finished with a career-high 17 points for WCU ... Junior Tawaski King matched his career-high with three assists in the loss;

* Trey Sumler now has 1,242 career points to remain 24th in school history, just 45 behind former teammate Jake Robinson who scored 1,287 from 2006-10 ... Sumler has 329 career assists, just TWO shy of moving onto WCU's all-time top 10 list ... He also has 133 career steals, three shy of moving into a tie for 10th on WCU's career chart ... Additionally, Sumler has 137 made 3-pointers FIVE shy of 10th-place in program history.