CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men's basketball team continued its hot play as it closed out the season with a 73-62 victory over visiting Furman University on Senior Night. WCU's four seniors led the way as three scored in double-figures and the other led the team with double-digit rebounds. The win also marked the fourth-straight for WCU and secured the fifth seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Championships present by General Shale.
The Catamounts have won seven of the last eight contests. It marks the best eight game stretch for WCU since the 2011-12 season when WCU closed out the year winning seven straight before falling to Davidson in the SoCon Championship game.
Seniors Torrion Brummitt and Mike Brown led the way Saturday as they each scored a team-high 19 points. Brummitt added nine rebounds, a block and a steal as he went 8-of-11 from the field. Brown had six rebounds, a game-high six assists and a steal.
Senior Rhett Harrelson continued his string sixth man play as he came off the bench to score 11 points and dish out a pair of assists. He knocked down three triples and was a perfect 2-2 at the free throw line. Fellow senior Justin Browning played nearly every minute of the game as he collected a team-high 10 rebounds, scored seven points, dished out four assists and blocked a team-high three shots.
Sophomore Haboubacar Mutombo came off the bench and did not miss a shot as he went 3-3 from the field including 2-2 from long range to score nine points. Freshman Marc Gosselin was able to find a number of outlet passes as he collected four assists on the day while scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds.
The victory improved WCU's record to 15-16 on the season and 10-8 in Southern Conference play. The Paladins fell to 17-14 overall and 11-7 in league action. WCU will either face Furman or Wofford in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Southern Conference Championships. If Wofford falls to ETSU today, WCU will take on the Terriers but if Wofford can pull off the upset WCU will face this same Furman team on Saturday, March 5 at 2:30 pm.
WCU played nearly even basketball with the Paladins in the first half as the Catamounts trailed 28-27 heading into the break. WCU came out on fire in the second half and shot 57.7 percent from the field in the second stanza as the Paladins struggled to beat the Catamount defense shooting just 38.5 percent in the second half. WCU outscored Furman 46-34 in the second half to secure a 73-62 victory and end the season with a 12-2 record inside the Ramsey Center.
The Catamounts controlled the boards 34-27 but lost the turnover battle 13-11. Despite having two more turnovers WCU and Furman were tied in points off turnovers with nine each.
Furman lost one of its starting forwards just five minutes into the opening half and had to rely on a pair of forwards off the bench to fill the role. Sophomore Devin Sibley led all scorers with 24 points while senior Stephen Croone poured in 18. Junior forward Kris Acox turned in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as well.
WCU will now turn its attention to the 2016 Southern Conference Championship presented by General Shale. The Catamounts will face either Furman or Wofford at 2:30 pm on Saturday, March 5 in Asheville, N.C.