Feb. 18, 2012
Elon, N.C. - Trey Sumlerled four Catamounts in double figures with 22 points including four made free throws in overtime as Western Carolina snapped its road losing drought, outlasting Elon, 78-76, Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference action at Alumni Gymnasium.
Tied at 62 at the end of regulation, Elon's Drew Spradlin missed a crucial bonus free throw, but sophomore Lucas Troutman gave the Phoenix new life with an offensive rebound and possession with 13 seconds showing on the clock. After a timeout, Elon got Spradlin one-last look that rimmed out with Harouna Mutombopulling down the defensive board and starting a fast break the other way.
Sumler raced up the floor on the Mutombo feed and had one final look at the buzzer, but his high-arching 3-pointer rattled halfway home before popping out, forcing the extra session.
Out of the gates in overtime, Sumler answered Jack Isenbarger's 3-pointer and set-up a nip-and-tuck finish. Sumler broke the eighth tie of the game by making 1-of-2 free throws with 34 seconds remaining, adding three more down the stretch. With WCU leading by three in the closing seconds, Spradlin was fouled shooting a 3-pointer at the buzzer and was awarded three free throws with 0.5 seconds on the clock.
A native of Wheelersburg, Ohio, Spradlin was short on the front-end before sinking the second foul shot which set-up an intentional miss on the third, looking for an offensive tip-in. Mutombo sealed the win for the Catamounts, though, by pulling down the decisive defensive rebound.
All told, Sumler made 4-of-6 charity tosses in overtime. Conversely, Spradlin missed four free throws including one intentionally and a lane violation during that same stretch. The Catamounts combined to make 11-of-15 foul shots in the overtime session to pull out the road victory.
"I'm just really, really proud of our basketball team," said WCU head coach Larry Hunterfollowing the game during post-game comments on the Catamount Sports Network. "It's taken us a while to get here, but we're finally getting there. The game has slowed down for some of our guys. They're starting to understand the importance of good, solid defense, having a little toughness... we've still got to get some of those rebounds there late in the game, but we really competed today. That's what our Catamount teams are known for. Overall, just a great, great team win."
Sumler, who along with Keaton Coleplayed all 45 minutes of the game, added seven assists and three steals to his game-high tying 22 points. Cole chipped in 19 points including five made 3-pointers with three assists and a pair of steals.
"I'm really proud of Trey (Sumler) and Keaton (Cole) - I just rode those guards all afternoon long," added Hunter. "They didn't come out of the game and had 41 points between them. Played very tenacious on the defensive end and helping force them into 24 turnovers."
Both Tawaski King and Mutombo just missed double-double outings on the day. King finished with 13 points and nine rebounds with four on the offensive end, while Mutombo scored 10 with eight boards. Ishmael Hollis scored six on two made 3-pointers while Brandon Boggsfinished with five, three from the charity stripe.
Western Carolina (12-17, 6-10 SoCon) was not able to take its first lead until the 5:26 mark of the second half when King slammed a feed from Sumler to go in front, 54-52. Boggs capped an athletic 360-spin move down the lane with a lay-up and subsequent free throw to hand the Catamounts their largest lead of the game at five, 59-54, with four minutes remaining in the game.
However, Elon rallied back with five-straight points by Jack Isenbarger, who matched Sumler's game-best 22 points before fouling out inside the final minute of overtime.
Elon led at halftime, 35-31, after WCU chipped away at an 11-point first half deficit.
Isenbarger made four 3-pointers while Troutman posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ryley Beaumont scored 11 with a game-high 12 rebounds, with Spradlin finishing with 11 points, just 3-of-9 from the free throw line.
Western Carolina returns home for its final two regular season home games this week, both in divisional play. The Catamounts look for the regular season sweep of Samford on Thursday night as the Bulldogs come to the Ramsey Center for a 7:00 pm tip.
Then, arch-rival Appalachian State comes to Cullowhee on Saturday in the front end of a hoops double-header with men's tip-off at 2:00 pm. Western Carolina will honor its three seniors - Sam Smithson, Harouna Mutombo and Keaton Cole- in a special pregame ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
- Western Carolina halted an eight-game road losing slide, picking up its first road win of calendar year 2012 ... the Catamounts also ended a seven-game winless drought in league road games;
- WCU claimed back-to-back victories for the first-time since late December 2011 when it defeated Bradley (Dec. 20) on the road followed-up by a home victory over UNC Asheville (Dec. 28);
- Keaton Cole finished with five made 3-pointers on Saturday afternoon to give him 91 for his WCU career, already second on the career ledger ... the Toronto, Ontario, native is now just EIGHT treys shy of tying WCU's single-season record held by current assistant coach and Catamount great Anquell McCollum... McCollum made a school-record 99 3-ponters during the 1995-96 season;
- Cole ranks fifth in school history in career 3-pointers made with 179, eight shy of matching Kyle Greathousewho made 187 3-pointers from 2003-07;
- Harouna Mutomboscored 10 at Elon to give him 1,468 in his four-year career, 14th in program history ... the Pickering, Ontario, native is now just four points shy of Darrell Murray who scored 1,472 from 1961-64.
- Western Carolina wore its gold uniforms on Saturday afternoon for just the second-time this year ... the Catamounts improved to 2-0 in the gold unis on the season.