CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men's basketball team had a pair of players post career-highs but it was not enough to end Southern Conference leader Furman's win streak. The Paladins earned their 10th-straight victory on the season as they edged the Catamounts, 74-62. Junior Devin Peterson and sophomore Marc Gosselin led the Catamounts with 22 and 16 points, respectively.
Peterson, who tied his career-high of 20 points in WCU's last contest, posted his second-straight 20-plus point performance posting a career-best 22 points in the loss. He also dished out a team-high four assists and picked up three rebounds and a steal. Gosselin, who nearly had a double-double, finished with a career-high 16 points and nine rebounds.
The victory moves Furman's record to 20-8 on the season and 13-2 in Southern Conference play while the Catamounts fell to 7-20 overall and 2-12 in league play.
Devin Sibley led the Paladins with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting while Kris Acox posted a huge double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
WCU jumped out to the early lead against the Paladins, taking a 10-2 advantage just five minutes into the game. The Catamounts would hold the lead until a pair of Sibley free throws tied the game at 13 with 11:13 left in the opening period. Sibley would follow the two charity points with a 3-pointer, giving Furman its first lead of the game at 16-13.
Furman held the lead for the next five minutes until a jumper by Peterson gave WCU a 26-25 edge with 5:27 left. WCU and Furman traded the lead five more times over the next three minutes until a 7-0 run by the Paladins closed out the half. Trailing 31-30, the Paladins hit a jumper to take a lead with 1:59 left in the half. Both teams would go scoreless on their next few possessions until a dunk by Acox gave the Paladins a three point edge with 20 ticks remaining. WCU was fouled with three seconds left in the half but a pair of missed free throws led to a heave at the final buzzer at the top of the key by Furman's Jonathan Jean which gave Furman the 37-31 lead at the break.
WCU connected on 52.2 percent of its first half shots but the Paladins were nearly identical at 52.0 percent.
The Paladins led the entire second half but WCU kept it interesting down the stretch. Furman took its largest lead of the game at the 9:51 mark of the period as a layup by Acox gave the Paladins a 59-45 edge. WCU battled back and cut the Paladin lead to seven on three separate occasions. On the first occasion, WCU forced a missed shot on Furman's next possession which led to an open three for the Catamounts which would have cut the lead to four. WCU missed the shot and Furman raced down the floor for a fastbreak layup to push the lead back to nine. On the two other occasions WCU hit two free throws to cut the lead to seven but Furman answered with free throws on the other end to keep the Catamounts at arm's length. The Catamounts would eventually fall by the final score of 74-62.
The second half saw WCU's shooting percentage drop to 34.4 percent while the Paladins hit 45.8 percent from the field.
Western Carolina will return to action this Saturday as the Catamounts travel to Upstate rival Wofford for a 7 pm contest.