CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men’s basketball team honored its three seniors prior to Saturday night’s contest with Southern Conference leader ETSU but the celebration was short-lived as the Buccaneers jumped out to a quick double-digit lead in the game. WCU, cheered on by a season-high crowd of 3,015 inside the Ramsey Center, tried to make a comeback in the second half but the Bucs were able to keep the advantage and hang on for a 68-52 victory.
Deriece Parks, Kyle Rhoades and Charlendez Brooks were all honored prior to the game but Rhoades was the only one to suit up with his teammates due to injuries to Parks and Brooks. Rhoades scored two points, grabbed two rebounds and picked up a steal in the game.
WCU struggled offensively in the opening half scoring just 12 points in the first 20 minutes while turning the ball over 11 times. The Catamounts connected on just 23.1 percent of their first half shots while the Bucs hit 40.7 percent to take a 32-12 lead into the break.
The second half saw both teams scorch the nets as WCU hit 53.3 percent of its second half attempts while ETSU hit 52.6 percent from the field. WCU outscored its opponent 40-36 in the second period and cut the Buccaneer lead to 11 at one point in the second half but that would be as close as the Catamounts would come.
WCU falls to 8-22 on the season and 3-14 in SoCon action while the Bucs maintain their first place position with a 24-6 record and 14-3 league mark.
Sophomore Marc Gosselin continued his strong play of late as he led the team in both points and rebounds with 15 tallies and nine rebounds in the contest. Junior Haboubacar Mutombo chipped in 11 points and six rebounds as the only other WCU player to reach the double-figure mark.
ETSU placed three scorers in double-figures led by T.J. Cromer who had 18 points and five assists. Tevin Glass added 14 points while David Burrell had 11.
The Catamounts will now prepare for their regular season finale Monday night against VMI. The Keydets travel to Cullowhee to take on the Catamounts at 7 pm.