Feb. 21, 2014
Boone, N.C. - Tom Tankelewicz scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half including seven in a four-minute span lifting Western Carolina to 74-61 win over Appalachian State as the Catamounts closed out their Southern Conference rivalry series with the Mountaineers Thursday night in the Holmes Center.
With App State heading to the Sun Belt Conference in the 2014-15 season, the Southern Conference series between the two mountain schools comes to a close on a high note for the Catamounts, who improve to 16-12 overall and 9-4 in the SoCon, while the Mountaineers, who fall to 8-18 and 4-9 in the league will depart the league having lost their last game in the conference series.
The win also seals an automatic bye for the Catamounts in the opening round of the Southern Conference Tournament scheduled to begin Friday, March 7 in Asheville, N.C. The Catamounts, who can finish no lower than fifth place in the final regular season standing, will no play until Saturday, March 8 in the conference tournament. No team has ever won the SoCon Tournament without the crucial first-round bye.
WCU carried an eight-point lead, 33-25, into the half, but App State trimmed the lead down to three points, 39-36, on a Jay Canty three-point play five and a half minutes into the second half. The Catamounts answered with a Brandon Boggs layup and a Tom Tankelewicz three on a Trey Sumler assist giving WCU a 44-36 lead with 13:37 left.
Two and a half minutes later, the Mountaineers again threatened the Catamount as App trimmed an eight point WCU led down to three points following corner triple by Aaron Scott, but the Purple & Gold strung together a 6-0 run on two layups by James Sinclair and a pair of free throws from Trey Sumler to take a nine point lead, 54-45 with 9:29 showing.
The Catamounts allowed the Mountaineers to hang around as App State cut the lead down to four points, 56-52, at the six-minute mark and trailed by only five points, 61-53, thirty seconds later before Tankelewicz scored seven of WCU's next eight points including a 3-pointer and a dunk in transition. His dunk, off of Sumler's sixth assists, gave WCU a 66-57 lead with 1:47 remaining all but sealing App State's fate on Senior Night. The Catamounts hit all six of their free throws down the stretch - four from James Sinclair and two from Sumler - en route to the 74-61 win.
The Catamounts made 49 percent of their shots from the floor including 39 percent of their 3-point field goals, while the Mountaineers converted only 42 percent from the floor and nine percent of their 3-pointers, 1-of-11. WCU made 19 of its 22 attempts from free throw line, while App State made on 16 of its 33 attempts from the charity stripe. WCU had three players perfect from the line including an 8-for-8 showing by Sumler and a 4-for-4 performance by Sinclair.
The Catamounts held a narrow rebounding advantage, 37-34, but WCU, who entered the league as the leader in offensive rebounds, collected only eight offensive rebounds compared to App State's 15.
Sinclair led all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor including on three and his four free throws, while Tankelewicz notched his 16 points by going 6-of-8 from the flooring including a 4-of-5 showing from behind the 3-point arc. Sumler tallied 14 points to go along with his six assists and game-high five steals.
Tommy Spagnolo paced the Mountaineers with 18 points and 11 rebounds picking up his sixth double-double in the last nine games for App. Spagnolo was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, but struggled from the line converting only four of his 10 free throw attempts. Ty Toney added 12 points and Tevin Baskin notched 11 points. Tab Hamilton, who enter the game averaging a team-high 13.6 points per game, was limited to just four points as he struggled from the floor shooting 1-of-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from long range.
The Catamounts closed a three-game road swing Thursday as WCU returns to the friendly confines of the Ramsey Center with The Citadel Saturday, February 22 at 2 p.m. WCU won the first meeting 78-60 in Charleston on January 25. The game against the Bulldogs starts a two-game home stand that ends with Chattanooga on Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m. Prior to the game against the Mocs, the Catamounts will honor its five seniors as they play their last game in Cullowhee.
Western Carolina at Appalachian State
- Thursday's game was the last regular season Southern Conference game between the two rival schools with App State leaving for the Sun Belt in 2014-15 season ... WCU finishes the SoCon series at 28-46;
- With the win WCU improves to 16-12 overall and 9-4 ... WCU clinches a first round by in the SoCon Tournament ... The Catamounts cannot finish below fifth in the final regular season standings;
- WCU is now 11-0 when leading at the half this season and 13-3 when scoring 70 or more points ... The Catamounts are also 9-2 when they hold their opposition to under 70 points ... WCU outrebounded App State 37-34 ... The Catamounts are 13-1 when they out rebound their opponents.
- WCU went 19-of-22 from the free throw for a season-high 86 percent ... Four Catamounts went perfect from the line - Trey Sumler 8-of-8, James Sinclair 4-of-4, Tawaski King and Torrion Brummitt were each 2-of-2 ... Sumler's 8-of-8 mark tied a school record for free throw percentage in a game with a minimum of eight attempts.
- With five steals Thursday, Trey Sumler moved into fourth place on WCU's all-time steals list ... He passed Bubba Wilson and his 179 career steals;
- With five total team blocks at App State, WCU moves into third with 133 total blocks in the 2013-14 season ... The 2000-01 and 2004-05 teams hold the record with 137 blocks in a single-season.
- WCU, who was outrebounded its opponents on the offensive end in 21 of its 27 games coming into Thursday night, was outrebounded 15-8 on the offensive glass.