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Rebounding, Defense Key Road Victory over UNCG, 70-68

James Sinclair keyed a lock-down defensive effort for WCU in the second half in the road win at UNCG on Thursday night.

Feb. 15, 2013

Box Score

Greensboro, N.C. - Reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week, Trey Sumler, led three Catamounts in double figures with a game-high 21 points as Western Carolina muscled past UNCG Thursday night, 70-68, at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The win coupled with Appalachian State's loss at Elon thrust WCU into sole possession of second place in the tight SoCon North Division standings. Sweeping the two regular season meetings, WCU improved to 11-15 overall, 8-6 in league play while preseason divisional favorite, UNCG, slipped to 7-17, 5-8 in the SoCon.

Tom Tankelewicz knotted the game for the 10th time and then pushed the Catamounts ahead for the final time with a pair of free throws with 1:24 remaining in regulation. On the ensuing possession, Tawaski King came up with a steal in the paint and was fouled, hitting 1-of-2 from the stripe to make it a two-point game, 68-66.

Seeking to again tie the game, UNCG's Derrell Armstrong missed a runner off the left-side of the lane where Sumler corralled the rebound and was put on the charity stripe. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native calmly sank two tosses to make it a two-possession game, 70-66.

The Spartans would not go away, though as Nicholas Paulos again closed the margin to two with an offensive rebound and put-back with just over seven seconds showing on the clock to pull back within a pair. WCU worked its inbounds play to perfection, getting the ball up the court where King was fouled with 2.3 ticks remaining. Despite missing both free throws, UNCG was unable to get a final look at the basket as Kelvin McNeil was called for travelling just a few steps after boarding King's miss, propelling WCU to its third-straight victory.

Sumler finished 6-of-14 with a couple of 3-pointers and connected on 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the victory, tallying his 15th career 20-point showing. King scored 13 points with six boards while Brandon Boggs chipped in 11 points, scoring five from the charity stripe.



But the story of the night was play off the ball - rebounding and defense. WCU dominated the boards, out-rebounding the athletic Spartans, 41-to-30. The Catamounts ripped down 16 offensive rebounds, scoring 19 second-chance points. James Sinclair led the visitors with eight rebounds while Preston Ross had six including five offensive boards to compliment six points. Freshman Mike Brown pulled down five rebounds and factored in on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, WCU surrendered 44-percent shooting to UNCG and only came away with four steals. Yet behind Sinclair, the Catamounts limited the SoCon's leading scorer - Trevis Simpson - to five points below his seasonal average, tallying just 15 points. Simpson scored 13 in the opening 20 minutes on 5-of-9 shooting with three 3-pointers, but Sinclair guided a team defense that smothered the prolific scorer, holding him to just 1-of-8 from the field including 0-for-3 from long-range in the second half.

Simpson was joined in double figures by Armstrong who led the Spartans with 18 points and four steals, while Paulos chipped in 16 including a couple treys. Post David Williams recorded 10 points, four coming from the free throw line.

Thursday's score ping-ponged back-and-forth all night long, enduring 15 lead changes and was tied 10 times. WCU led by five with three minutes remaining in the first half before consecutive 3-pointers by Simpson put the Spartans in front with Williams pushing the lead to three, 34-31, at intermission.

In the second half, UNCG managed to stretch its lead out to a game-high six points midway through the half before the Catamounts rallied to tie it at 52 at the nine minute mark. WCU would manage a five-point edge at the 4:43 mark on a King lay-up, but the lead would never get above for the remainder of the contest.

Western Carolina wraps up the road portion of its 2012-13 regular season by visiting North Division-leading Elon on Saturday evening at Alumni Gym. The Phoenix took the first meeting, 80-67, in Cullowhee back on Jan. 14. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Western Carolina at UNCG - Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina improved to 26-16 all-time against UNCG, winning for the third-straight time and 11th time in the past 12 series meetings ... WCU swept the regular season meetings with the Spartans in 2013 marking the sixth time in series history the Catamounts have swept both seasonal match-ups ... WCU won for the fourth time in five meetings held in the Greensboro Coliseum;

- WCU's third-straight seasonal victory matches the season's longest winning streak;

- Former Catamount standout Corey Muirhead (2003-06) was in attendance at Thursday night's road win over UNCG at the Greensboro Coliseum;

- Freshman Mike Brown knocked down a career-best three 3-pointers, finishing perfect from beyond the arc (3-for-3) ... Brown finished with nine points and was credited with five rebounds, but his uncharted "hustle stats" helped the Catamounts score the win;

- With one made 3-pointer, WCU's Tom Tankelewicz now has 64 made treys this season to move into a four-way tie for 10th on the school's single-season chart ... Tankelewicz is tied with Jake Robinson (2006-07), Casey Rogers (1998-99) and David Donerlson (1989-90) for 10th in the single-season charts;

- With 21 points on Thursday night, Sumler now has 1,322 career points and is just TWO points shy of moving into the top 20 in school history ... Dave Jones (1957-60) scored 1,324 points in his career and currently holds the 20th position all-time;

- WCU held SoCon-leading scorer Trevis Simpson to 15 points on Thursday night ... It matches his fifth-lowest performance of the year ... Simpson had scored 20-or-more in five of his last nine games, twice scoring 30-or-more ... Simpson had 13 points in the first half but was held to just two after intermission on 1-of-8 shooting.