CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Western Carolina men’s basketball team won its final road game of the season Wednesday night as the Catamounts held off a feisty Citadel squad on the road. WCU led by as many as 20 points in the game but the Bulldogs stormed back and cut the game to one possession late in the contest. WCU hung on for the 84-80 victory while placing five scorers in double-figures.
The Bulldogs came into the contest averaging 91.1 points per game which ranked second in the NCAA this season. WCU held The Citadel just over 11 points under their average while the Catamounts scored nearly 25 points above their own season average of 59.9 points per game.
Junior Ashley Williams came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points as he connected on four 3-pointers while going 5-of-10 from the field. Freshman Onno Steger tied his career-high with 15 points while knocking down three triples and going 5-of-10 from the field as well.
Sophomore Marc Gosselin turned in a double-double performance with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Gosselin also dished out four assists, blocked a pair of shots and knocked down five of his six free throw attempts.
Juniors Devin Peterson and Haboubacar Mutombo each chipped in 12 points. Peterson flirted with a triple-double as he dished out nine assists and collected six rebounds. He also blocked a pair of shots and had two steals. Mutombo nearly had a double-double as well with nine rebounds.
The victory moves WCU into a tie for ninth in the Southern Conference standings with VMI. WCU is 8-21 overall this season and 3-13 in SoCon action. The Bulldogs drop to 9-20 overall and 2-14 in league play.
The Catamounts shot 50.0 percent from the field in the opening half as they opened up a 49-31 lead at the break. The Bulldogs struggled to find their shot in the opening 20 minutes connecting on just 30.3 percent of their attempts including just 25.0 percent from 3-point range.
The second half saw the Catamounts turn the ball over 15 times which allowed the Bulldogs to whittle away the WCU advantage. WCU led by 13 points with 2:59 left in the contest when the Bulldogs began a 14-4 run that featured two WCU turnovers and a missed free throw which cut WCU’s advantage to 83-80 with 22 seconds left. The Catamounts would miss three-straight free throws from that point on but WCU’s defense held up on the other end not allowing the Bulldogs to take advantage. A free throw by Williams ended the streak and gave WCU its final edge at 84-80 with eight ticks left. WCU’s defense would again hold as the horn sounded ending the game.
The Citadel had four scorers in double-figures led by Preston Parks, who had 28 against WCU in the earlier meeting this season. Parks finished with 19 Wednesday night while Ezekiel Balogun and Zane Najdawi added 15 a piece.
The Catamounts will now return to Cullowhee for a pair of home games to close out the regular season. WCU hosts SoCon leader ETSU on Saturday night at 7 pm before welcoming in VMI on Monday. WCU will celebrate its three seniors prior to the ETSU contest.