Feb. 10, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Led by 25 points from Trey Sumler, 17 in the second half, and 15 points from Brandon Boggs, all of which came in the second half, Western Carolina rallied from a halftime deficit for only the fourth time this season as the Catamounts edged Furman, 83-75, Monday night in the Southern Conference Game of the Week in the Ramsey Center.
Facing a classic trap game after an emotional overtime win over Appalachian State on Saturday and with a road trip to Chattanooga, who is second in the SoCon standings, looming on the horizon Thursday at 7 p.m., WCU turned around sluggish first half shooting 40 percent, 14-of-35, overall and 17 percent, 2-of-12, from behind the 3-point arc in the opening 20 minutes. However, the Catamounts flipped the script in the final 20 minutes going 16-of-29 from the field for 55 percent and 6-of-14 from behind long range for 43 percent.
WCU took a narrow four-point lead, 14-10, eight minutes into play, but Furman answered with a 9-0 run with five of the nine points coming from the free throw line as the Paladins took a five-point lead, 19-14, on a Adonis Rwabigwi dunk at the eight-minute mark. The Purple & Gold cut the margin down to one point, 23-22, two minutes later, but Furman again stretched the gap out to five points, 31-26, with 2:36 left before the half. A minute later, Tom Tankelewicz connected on a triple to cap off of 7-0 run WCU run give the Catamounts a 33-31 advantage. However, Furman was awarded four free throws leading to three Paladin points over the final 40 seconds to give the visitors the 34-33 halftime lead.
The Paladins 10-of-23 in the first half and 0-for-4 from 3-point range, but made 14 of their 17 free throws for 41 percent of their first half points.
The Catamounts came out of the locker rooms and connected on the first five field goal attempts including three threes consecutive threes from Sumler as WCU took a five-point lead, 46-41. WCU's lead would be contested, but never relinquished over the final 16 minutes of play.
WCU's lead hit double-digits, 62-52, for the first time on a Brandon Boggs' triple with 8:53 remaining, and hit 11 twice, once on a Tawaski King fast break layup as the post player was awarded for hustling down the court on one of James Sinclair's six assists, and the second time on Sumler jumper with 5:32 left on the clock.
Furman mounted the largest run of the game by either team as the Paladins strung together a 12-2 run aided by six points from the charity stripe cutting the Catamount lead down to two points, 73-71, with three minutes later. The Paladins' Stephen Croone converted the final five points of the run all from the free throw line.
Sinclair answered for the Catamounts for an old-fashion three-point play as he was fouled driving to the basket. The whistle was only Furman's fourth foul of the second half and 11th of the game with two minutes remaining in the second half.
Furman attempted to keep the game alive, but had to foul three times in a nine-second window to send the Catamounts to the line. James Sinclair converted two free throws with 43 seconds to keep the lead at two possessions. Counting Sinclair's free throws, WCU made seven of its eight free throw attempts en route to the 83-75 win.
WCU finished 47 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the 3-point arc, while Furman was 47 percent overall and 17 percent from long range. The Paladins were awarded 33 free throw attempts resulting in 25 points for one third of Furman's point total in the game. WCU made only 18 attempts to the line converting 15 of those tries.
Furman was forced into 15 turnovers, 11 of which came on Catamount steals, leading to 22 points off turnovers. WCU turned the ball over only nine times for 11 Paladin points. The Catamounts were the quicker team with 21 points in transition compared to only two on the fast break for Furman.
Sumler's team-high 24 points and Boggs' 15 points led five total Catamounts in double figures for the second straight game. James Sinclair tallied 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor including a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Sinclair also grabbed ten rebounds for his second career double-double and second double-double of the season for the WCU. King, who scored in double figures for the second straight game, was 5-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free throw line as he collected 13 points.
Croone paced all scorers with 27 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor including one three. He was also 12-of-18 from the line. Rwabigwi added 17 points, while Kendrec Ferrara scored 12 points for the Paladins.
Western Carolina vs. Furman Game Notes
- With the win, WCU improves to 10-1 at home on the season and 13-11 overall ... The Catamounts are 90-49 under head coach Larry Hunter in the Ramsey Center ... WCU has now won three of its last four games and back-to-back games for the first time since defeating Georgia Southern, 68-67, on January 11 and Samford, 67-64, on January 18;
- WCU trailed at the half for the 14th time this season but rallied for the win for only the fourth time.
- WCU was whistled for 24 fouls compared to 16 fouls for Furman, including five fouls in the final minute when Furman was trying to stop the clock ... With the discrepancy, Furman shot 33 free throws compared to just 18 for WCU;
- Over the last four games, WCU has been whistled for 94 fouls compared to only 68 fouls for its opponents - The Citadel 25-14, Elon 16-7, App State 29-31 and Furman Monday, 24-16 ... WCU's opponents have gone to the line for 128 free throw attempts ... Opposing teams have converted 91 of those attempts ... Conversely, the Catamounts have gone to line only 74 times leading to 57 points including one game - at Elon when WCU went without a free throw attempt.
- With a 3-pointer at the 5:22 mark in the first half, Trey Sumler moved into third place on the WCU all-time scoring list and the highest scoring Catamount since the school joined the Southern Conference in 1977 ... Sumler finished with a team-high 24 points giving him 1,860 career points ... He passed former WCU standout and current star of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Martin, who amassed 1,838 points in his three seasons in Cullowhee;
- Sumler needs 40 points to become the third Catamount 2,000 career points and 61 points to move ahead of Mel Gibson, who scored 2,020 career points from 1959-63.
- Sumler finished the game 10-of-23 from the field and 4-of-11 for behind the arc ... His 23 field goal attempts set a new career-high, while 11 3-point field goal attempts matched a career-high.
- James Sinclair picked up his second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds Monday ... His first double-double came during his freshman year when he tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds against Toccoa Falls on January 17, 2012 ... It is only the second double-double by a Catamount this season ... Sumler had 35 points and 10 assists vs. Niagara on November 22;
- Sinclair handed out a game-high six assists matching his career-high.
- With 13 points and seven rebounds Monday, Tawaski King has scored in double-digits in consecutive games for only the second time this season ... Over the last two games he is averaging 11.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game after entering the last two games averaging 6.7 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game.
- WCU had five players score in double figures for the second straight game and the second time this season.