ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Despite two players picking up double-doubles and another scoring a career-high, the Western Carolina men's basketball team fell Friday night inside the U.S. Cellular Center, 78-72, to The Citadel in the first round of the 2017 Southern Conference Championships presented by General Shale. Junior Haboubacar Mutombo did all he could to keep the Catamounts alive in the second half as he scored 18 points over the final 20 minutes in route to a career-high 25 point performance.
The Pickering, Ontario native, knocked down five 3-pointers while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out two assists. Junior Devin Peterson added 14 points and a career-high 11 assists for his second career double-double.
Sophomore Marc Gosselin added the other double-double as he closes the season with four-straight double-double performances. The Lyon, France native, had 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. He also led the team with a pair of blocks while also adding two steals and a pair of assists.
The game marks the first time this season the Catamounts fell when leading at halftime. WCU led 40-39 at the break but was unable to hold onto the advantage over the final 20 minutes.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball as WCU hit just 38.9 percent of its shots while the Bulldogs connected on 44.6 percent. The Catamounts dominated the boards in the opening 20 minutes, 28-12, but it was the Bulldogs who controlled the boards in the second half, 22-15.
WCU had several long stretches of scoreless play and the Bulldogs took advantage including going on a pair of 7-0 runs in the first half. First to tie the game and second to take a five point lead. The second half featured an 8-0 run by the Bulldogs late that gave The Citadel a 69-62 lead with just under five minutes to play.
The loss also ends an eight-year streak for the Catamounts for appearances in the SoCon Championship quarterfinals. The last time WCU did not advance past the first round came in 2008 as the No. 9 seeded Catamounts lost to the No. 8 seed Wofford.
The Citadel was led by SoCon Freshman of the Year Preston Parks who scored a game-high 27 points.