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Seniors Lead Catamounts Past The Citadel, 70-53

Sophomore post Tawaski King just missed a double-double, finishing with eight points and a career-high 15 rebounds against The Citadel on Thursday night. (Photo by Ashley Evans)

Feb. 16, 2012

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Harouna Mutombo led Western Carolina with a season-high 24 points and the Catamounts dominated the boards, 55-to-27, en route to a 70-53 victory over The Citadel on Thursday night in Southern Conference action in the Ramsey Center.

WCU managed to out rebound the Bulldogs simply on the offensive end, pulling down 28 offensive boards while the Bulldogs had just 27 total rebounds, eight after their own missed shots. The Catamounts, who led start-to-finish on Thursday, attempted 74 shots on the night, matching the second-most in a game this season.

Mutombo, a redshirt senior, was in a zone on Thursday night, scoring a dozen points in both halves while adding seven rebounds - including six on the offensive end alone - and four assists. The Pickering, Ontario, Canada, native had three different instances where he scored five-consecutive points for WCU in the win. Classmate countryman Keaton Cole hit five of WCU's seven 3-pointers to return to double-digit scoring with 15 points and three steals to pace the Catamounts.

Sophomore post Tawaski King pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds, just missing a double-double with eight points. Trey Sumler had his career-long streak of 10-straight, double-figure scoring outings snapped, finishing with seven points and three assists in the victory.

The Citadel's Mike Groselle posted his 13th double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds while adding six steals as the Bulldogs suffered their 11th-straight loss. Lawrence Miller chipped in 14 points and four assists off the bench.

Despite opening the game on a 13-to-2 run, the Catamounts led by just three following a Miller 3-pointer with 13:15 remaining in the first half. That was as close as the Bulldogs would get, though, as Brandon Boggs tipped away a pass at the top of the key and took it the other way for a break-away slam dunk to extend the margin back to five points midway through the opening 20 minutes.

Cole's fourth 3-pointer of the first half in the closing seconds gave the Catamounts a 13-point, 36-23, edge at intermission. WCU held the Bulldogs to just 28-percent shooting over the opening 20 minutes.

In the second half, The Citadel (4-22, 1-14 SoCon)managed to shoot 48-percent, but was unable to keep the Catamounts off the glass, surrendering 32 rebounds including 18 on the offensive end and a combined 13 second-chance points.

A Groselle jumper midway through the half pulled the Bulldogs back to within 11 points, 53-42, but The Citadel was unable to take advantage of three possessions - two coming off of WCU turnovers. King slammed home an offensive rebound to push the margin back to 13 and the cushion never got below 12 the remainder of the game with Cole's final 3-pointer handing WCU its largest lead of the game at 19 points, 68-49, at the 3:34 mark.

Western Carolina (11-17, 5-10 SoCon) travels to Elon on Saturday in its final road contest of the regular season. The Catamounts will look to avenge a 71-63 loss in the Ramsey Center back on Jan. 26. WCU claimed the most recent meeting at Elon in 2010-11, 74-58

Saturday's game will be broadcast on the SoCon Sports Network and can be seen on UNC-TV Explorer, as well as online through ESPN3 at Catamount Sports Network coverage of the game will begin at 2:30 pm on Saturday with tip-off just after 3 pm on 920 AM WPTL in Canton and online at

Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina snapped a five-game winless drought against The Citadel, scoring the first win over the Bulldogs since February of 2008 ... the Catamounts claimed the only regular season meeting between the two squads this year ... WCU additionally halted a three-game seasonal losing skid;

- With five made 3-pointers on Thursday night, Keaton Cole now has a single-season, career-best 86 on the year which ranks him second in school history in 3-pointers made in a season ... Cole by-passed fourth-place Anquell McCollum (83, 1994-95) and Jake Robinson (84, 2009-10) and stands just 13 shy of McCollum's single-season school record of 99 made 3-pointers in the 1995-96 season;

- Cole additionally moved into a tie for fifth on the school's career 3-pointers made chart, now with 174 to stand even with former all-star Kevin Martin who made 174 from 2002-04;

- Harouna Mutombo advanced into 14th on WCU's career scoring charts now with 1,458, leaping over former standout Ronnie Carr who in addition to making the first 3-point shot in NCAA basketball history, scored 1,455 career points from 1980-83 ... Carr missed one season due to an automobile accident ... With three regular season games and at least one in the SoCon tournament remaining, Mutombo is just 51 points shy of moving into WCU's career top 10 for scoring;

- Mutombo continues to rank fourth in school history in career steals, now with 176 - just three shy of moving into a third-place tie with Bubba Wilson who had 179 thefts from 1975-78.