Feb. 28, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina erased all but two of a game-high 19-point deficit on Thursday night, but could never pull even or ahead, falling to Chattanooga by nine, 81-72, in Southern Conference action in the Ramsey Center.
Z. Mason finished with a game-high 25 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the Mocs over the Catamounts, snapping a WCU's five-game home winning streak over UTC.
Junior Brandon Boggs turned in his second-straight 20-point performance, leading the Catamounts with 21 points including four 3-pointers. The Greenville, S.C., native scored 13 in the first half with eight coming after intermission. He picked up his fourth personal foul just two minutes into the second half which limited his minutes in the second stanza.
Tawaski King posted his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds, mostly coming in the second half. King was held scoreless with just one rebound, playing 10 of the opening 20 minutes. Trey Sumler was the third Catamount in double figures with 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, connecting on two 3-pointers and dishing out four assists.
WCU (12-18, 8-9 SoCon) struggled out of the starting blocks, missing its first seven shots from the floor and turning it over three additional times as the Mocs blitzed the Catamounts to a 12-to-0 run over the first six minutes. The Catamounts broke the ice with a lay-up by freshman Mike Brown at the 13:52 mark, but were only able to claw back to within eight points following a Torrion Brummitt bucket in the first half before the Mocs reclaimed a double-digit edge.
UTC (13-17, 8-9 SoCon) led by as many as 19 in the opening period, carrying a 43-29 edge into the halftime locker room.
Western Carolina started to find its offensive groove in the second half, using an 11-to-2 run capped by a lay-up by Preston Ross to pull back within five, 53-48, just six minutes into the second half. The Mocs were able to keep the Catamounts at arm's length by trading baskets, pulling back out by 10 as Eric Robertson came out of a scrum with an uncontested slam dunk with just under 11 minutes to play.
Spurred by King's inspired effort in the paint and big shots by Boggs from the perimeter, the Catamounts were able to claw back to within two points three times over the final five and a half minutes. Boggs buried a triple at the 5:29 mark only to see a pair of Ronrico White free throws stemming from a backcourt WCU foul while pressuring the inbounds stretch the advantage back out to four. On the ensuing possession, Boggs again made it a one-possession game at the 4:36 mark.
After a WCU timeout, the Mocs used six-straight points capped by a Casey Jones dunk to retake an eight-point edge with 2:47 to play. Boggs' fourth 3-pointer of the game at the 1:32 mark again drew the Catamounts to within two points, 74-72. However, beginning with a White 3-pointer with the shot clock dwindling, Chattanooga outscored WCU by seven including an old-fashioned three-point play by Mason to seal the win.
Behind Mason, White finished with 19 points including seven from the free throw line while rookie Gee McGhee chipped in a dozen with three assists and four steals.
The two teams were whistled for a combined 53 personal fouls and shot 64 free throws. UTC connected on 26 charity tosses (26-of-39, 66.7%) while WCU was 18-of-25 (72-percent). The Mocs outscored WCU 38-to-20 in the paint while the Catamounts won the battle of the boards, 37-to-33.
Western Carolina closes out its regular season slate on Saturday afternoon in the back-end of a Catamount basketball doubleheader. WCU's women host the College of Charleston at 2:00 pm with the men battling Samford at 4:30 pm.
Western Carolina vs. Chattanooga - Post-Game Notes:
- Thursday night's loss eliminated the Catamounts from contention for the fourth seed and accompanying first-round bye in next week's Southern Conference tournament;
- Appalachian State's home double-overtime win over Samford kept the Mountaineers in the hunt with three teams - ASU, Samford and Chattanooga - all still eligible for the bye ... Samford would get the bye with a win in Cullowhee on Saturday afternoon ... Appalachian State would earn the bye with a win over Chattanooga AND a Samford loss at WCU ... Chattanooga would earn the bye with a road win at ASU AND a WCU victory over Samford;
- Western Carolina can finish anywhere from fifth to eighth in the final SoCon standings depending upon the final day of the regular season on Saturday, March 2 ... the sixth seed plays the late game on Friday, March 8 in the opening round ... seventh seed plays at approximately 6 pm on Friday ... and the eighth seed comes with the curtain-lifting game on the longest running college basketball conference championship tournament;
- Western Carolina dropped its third-straight game in Southern Conference play dating back to the overtime loss at Elon, home defeat against the College of Charleston and Thursday night ... WCU dropped back to .500 at home this season at 6-6, matching the most home losses under Larry Hunter, dropping that same number in the 2007-08 season;
- WCU and UTC split the regular season meetings for a seventh-straight season, this year with both squads winning on the road ... the loss snaps WCU's five-game home winning streak over the Mocs ... the Catamounts have never swept the regular season meetings with UTC ... Also, the Mocs took a one-game lead in the series games played in Cullowhee, 19-18;
- Brandon Boggs scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games, finishing with 26 in Saturday's home win over Coastal Carolina and 21 on Thursday night against Chattanooga ... For Boggs, it was his sixth career 20-point game - second this season - and the first-time in his WCU career that he's gone for 20-plus in consecutive games;
- Tom Tankelewicz had one made 3-pointer against UTC on Thursday night giving him 76 on the season ... Tankelewicz ranks sixth, just one shy of fifth-place in WCU's single-season record book held by Terry Boyd (1991-92);
- Trey Sumler reached double digits for the ninth-straight game, finishing with 10 points against Chattanooga ... He now has 1,387 career points to remain 18th in WCU history;
- Sumler additionally continues to rank ninth with 353 career assists, 10th with 150 made 3-pointers and 10th with 143 career steals;
- Western Carolina's Southern Conference Champion women's indoor track & field team was honored during the first media timeout of Thursday night's game.