GREENSBORO, N.C. - For the first time in the last four games the Western Carolina men's basketball team found itself on the losing end of a contest Saturday night as the Spartans of UNCG topped the Catamounts 65-48 inside Fleming Gymnasium. Junior Marc Gosselin led the WCU effort as he scored a game-high 15 points while collecting nine rebounds. He also led the team with a trio of assists in the loss.
UNCG used a 21-6 edge in free throw attempts in the opening half to take a 31-26 lead into the break and then out-shot the Catamounts 50.0 percent to 25.9 percent from the field in the second half to pull away for the double-digit victory. WCU held the shooting edge (38.5%-32.0%) in the opening 20 minutes but the free throw disadvantage proved to be too much to overcome.
Freshman Matt Halvorsen finished with nine points while senior Deriece Parks chipped in seven points and six rebounds. Junior Mike Amius struggled to find the offensive touch for the second-straight contest and finished with six points and a pair of rebounds.
The loss drops WCU's record to 12-14 overall and 7-6 in Southern Conference play while UNCG improves to 19-6 overall and 10-2 in league action. The Catamounts now sit along in fifth place in the SoCon standings trailing Furman and Wofford by one game who are tied for third.
The Spartans were paced by a quartet of double-digit scorers as Jordy Kuiper (12), James Dickey (11), Demetrius Troy (10) and Isaiah Miller (10) all surpassed the mark. The Southern Conference's number two scorer on the season, Francis Alonso, who came into the contest averaging 16.9 points per game was held to just five points on 2-of-9 shooting.
WCU committed 19 turnovers in the loss which led to 16 UNCG points while the Catamount defense turned 14 UNCG mistakes into eight points in the offensive end.
The Catamounts never led in the game but kept the deficit to single digits for the first 29 minutes of the contest until a layup by Miller gave the Spartans a 47-36 lead with 11:02 left in the game. A 3-pointer by Halvorsen just over two minutes later cut the lead to eight but that would be the final single digit lead of the contest as UNCG pulled away late for the 65-48 victory.
The Catamounts will now finish the season with four of their final five games inside the friendly confines of the Ramsey Center where WCU boasts a 7-2 record this season. The final stretch begins this Thursday, Feb. 10 as WCU welcomes in perennial power Wofford for a 7:30 pm contest. The Terriers are coming off a 76-52 loss to Furman on the road which marks the third loss in their last four games.