Four in Double Figures as WCU Cruises Past Samford, 85-63

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Harouna Mutombo (pictured) and Richie Gordon led four players in double figures for Western Carolina as the Catamounts beat Samford on Saturday afternoon. (Photos by Ashley Evans)
Harouna Mutombo (pictured) and Richie Gordon led four players in double figures for Western Carolina as the Catamounts beat Samford on Saturday afternoon. (Photos by Ashley Evans)

Feb. 12, 2011

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Richie Gordon and Harouna Mutombo both scored 16 points while backcourt mates Mike Williams and Trey Sumler recorded 14 apiece as Western Carolina cruised past Samford, 85-63, on Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference action in the Ramsey Center.

Gordon added four rebounds including three on the offensive end while Mutombo pulled down a game-high eight boards with three assists for the Catamounts who won their second game in as many days. Williams and Sumler combined for 13 of WCU's season-high tying 19 assists, doling out seven and six helpers, respectively.

Senior Blake Gallagher came off the bench to score six on 3-for-3 shooting while freshman Preston Ross also added six points as a reserve.

"I was really pleased with how our guys absorbed a lot of information in a short period of time," WCU coach Larry Hunter told the Asheville Citizen-Times during post-game interviews. "(Samford) is much different than playing some other teams. We executed pretty well at both ends of the court and had a lot of energy for coming off a short turnaround."

Including three made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, Western Carolina (13-13, 9-5 SoCon) connected on its first five field goal attempts in pulling out to a double-digit lead inside the opening two and a half minutes on Saturday afternoon. With the Catamount advantage at 13-2, back-to-back buckets by the Bulldogs trimmed the margin to seven, 13-6, at the 14:52 mark of the first half. But as it would turn out, that would be as close as Samford would get the remainder of the contest.

The Catamounts used a 14-to-2 run over a five and a half minute stretch midway through the opening 20 minutes to take a 20-point lead, 32-12, before carrying a 16-point cushion into intermission following a Jeffrey Merritt 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

WCU managed a double-digit margin throughout the final half, maintaining at least a 13-point edge with a game-high lead of 24 coming at the 2:34 mark as Mutombo converted a Sumler steal into an uncontested lay-up.

Samford (12-14, 4-10 SoCon), which lost for the sixth time in its last seven game, was led by Merritt with 17 points.

Western Carolina posted its second-best shooting performance of the season, finishing at 55.2-percent from the floor for the game. Samford likewise shot well from the field, making half of its shot attempts - the difference coming in the sheer numbers as WCU was 37-of-67 while the Bulldogs were just 23-of-46, a difference of 21 shot attempts.

The Catamounts also outscored the methodical Bulldogs, 32-to-12, in the paint and controlled the boards to the tune of 33-to-26 including an 11-to-5 edge in offensive rebounds.

Following the back-to-back home games on consecutive days, Western Carolina is back on the road this Thursday as it travels to Boone, N.C., to face arch-rival Appalachian State. Tip-off from the Holmes Center is set for 7:00 pm. WCU earned a walk-off victory over the Mountaineers back on January 15 as Mike Williams stepped past a flying defender to bury a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer for the one-point, 79-78, victory.

WCU has dropped six-straight games in Boone in the series, last winning on the road in 2004 which is also the last time the Catamounts swept a regular season series with the Mountaineers.

Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina improved to 9-0 at home in the Ramsey Center this season with the victory over Samford, while also claiming its 11th-straight home victory dating back to last season ... All told, the Catamounts have won 36 of the last 41 at home including 25 of the last 28 against Southern Conference opponents in Cullowhee ... Over the past three seasons, WCU is 34-4 (.895) at home ... During head coach Larry Hunter's tenure, the Catamounts are 57-19 (.750) at home in six seasons;

- WCU remained perfect at home against the Samford Bulldogs, improving to 5-0 all-time in the head-to-head series which does include a forfeit victory in 1970 ... WCU is 3-0 against the Bulldogs in the Ramsey Center since Samford joined the Southern Conference;

- Samford entered Saturday's game ranked 13th nationally in 3-point field goals made per game at 9.1 - WCU limited the Bulldogs to just six made treys ... Samford was also the top-ranked team in the Southern Conference in field goal percentage defense, limiting foes to just 41.6-percent shooting from the floor - WCU shot 55.2-percent from the field in the victory ... And finally, Samford ranked second in the SoCon in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 64.9 points per game this season - WCU scored 85 points, a season-high against a NCAA Division I team;

- Western Carolina dished out a season-high tying 19 assists, matching the total from the home win over Warren Wilson ... the Catamounts also committed a season-low six turnovers in Saturday's home win over Samford;

- The Catamounts returned to .500 overall on the season at 13-13 ... it is the first time WCU has been even record wise since November following the one-point home victory over Bradley that pushed WCU to 4-4 at the time;

- Redshirt junior Harouna Mutombo scored 16 points in the home win over Samford giving him 987 for his WCU career ... He is just 13 points shy of 1,000 for his career ... Mutombo is vying to become the 39th different Catamount to score over 1,000 points.



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