March 3, 2012
Asheville, N.C. - Western Carolina put six players in double figures while shooting a sizzling 56-percent from the floor including hitting half of its 3-pointer attempts as the North Division's third seed breezed past the South's No. 2 seed, Wofford, with an 82-59 win Saturday afternoon at the 2012 Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Western Carolina advanced to face the top seed from the North Division, UNCG, which rallied to upend the North's No. 5 seed, Appalachian State, in the first quarterfinal game. The two split the two regular season meetings, winning on their respective home courts. UNCG snapped WCU's nine-game winning streak in the head-to-head series with an overtime victory, 89-86, back at the end of January.
The Catamounts and Spartans will square off Sunday at 6:00 p.m. in the first semifinal. The game can be seen on the SoCon Sports Network and will be shown online at ESPN3.
Redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds after only playing eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Sophomore post Tawaski King added a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, while Trey Sumler chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Brad Loesing tallied 23 points and five assists for the Terriers. Lee Skinner had 12 points and eight rebounds as well. Wofford's leading scorer Kevin Giltner was limited to 1-of-15 shooting, finishing with just three points.
Western Carolina (16-17) immediately built on its six-point halftime lead with an 11-to-2 run to take a 15-point advantage, 49-34, on King's layup at 16:20. Wofford never managed to get closer than 11 from that point on.
Leading by a dozen at 71-59, the Catamounts closed the contest with 12 unanswered points. Back-to-back three-pointers from Mutombo and Keaton Cole, along with tenacious defense, put the exclamation point on the win. WCU did not allow a Wofford field goal over the final 6:58.
Cole had 16 points on a sharp shooting day hitting five-of-seven from the floor including two-for-three from beyond the arc. Brandon Boggs and Preston Ross each had 11. WCU shot 55.8 percent (29-52) from the field and 50 percent (7-14) from three-point range as a team.
As hot as the Catamounts shot the ball on Saturday afternoon, their defense was just as impressive. WCU held the Terriers to just 32.8 percent shooting (20-of-61) making just three of 24 3-point efforts (12.5%).
Post-Game Notes: - Western Carolina won the rubber-match with Wofford as the two split the regular season meetings, both winning on their home courts ... WCU also avenged SoCon Tournament losses to the Terriers the past two seasons ... Wofford had knocked the Catamounts out of the conference tournament both of the last two years en route to the league tournament championship;
- Western Carolina scored its sixth win (6-11) in Asheville in SoCon tournament play ... Since falling in the 1995 SoCon title game, the Catamounts have won five of its last seven games in tournament action.
- With two more made 3-pointers, Keaton Cole added to his school single-season record, now with 108 ... He remains 10th on the SoCon's single-season record book, now just three shy of ninth-place Keith Veney of Marshall who made 111 in the 1996-96 season.