March 9, 2013
Asheville, N.C. - Trey Sumler led three Catamounts in double figures with a game-high 25 points, but it wasn't enough as sixth-seeded Western Carolina fell to No. 3 College of Charleston, 78-70, in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Cougars advance to the semifinals with a 23-9 overall mark, while the Catamounts end their campaign at 14-19.
Anthony Thomas led CofC with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Adjehi Baru added 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Sumler paced all scorers with a game-high 25 points and six boards. James Sinclair chipped in 19 points, four assists, three blocks and three steals.
A third Catamount, junior post Tawaski King, just missed a double-double with 13 points and team-high eight rebounds.
In two games in tournament play, Sumler scored 52 points, averaging 26.0 per game on 55.6-percent shooting (20-of-36). Sinclair was not far behind, averaging 16.5 points in the two games against South Carolina Lowcountry squads, totaling 33 points.
"I thought Charleston played really well tonight," WCU head coach Larry Hunter started during his post-game comments. "At the start of both halves, they jumped on us. After the start of the first half, I was very proud of the way our guys elevated their play and got back in it. Then they hit us with a good shot in the first five minutes of the second half, really took control of the game and put themselves in a good position."
"I was very proud of the way our guys hung in there and didn't give in, but they were the better team out there tonight," Hunter said.
Charleston built on its three-point halftime lead early in the second half. The margin reached 11 after a 10-2 run capped by two Willis Hall free throws giving his team a little breathing room. Sumler's three at 11:46 got Western within eight, 51-43, but it was all CofC from there.
Baru hit two free throws just a minute later to get the back to double digits where it stayed until the final shot of the game. Once they got ahead, the Cougars held the Cats at bay the rest of the way. The lead never got larger than 16 points nor closer than the eight-point final which came as Sumler nailed a three-pointer at the final horn.
The Catamounts tried to make it a game late. Down 75-59, it went on quite a flurry to rouse its purple and gold supporters who made the short trip to Asheville. Sumler hit one of two free throws but made a steal and scored on a driving layup to make it 75-62. Another steal and Sinclair 3-pointer cut it to 10, 75-65, with 53 ticks left but that was it.
Lawrence scored 16 points for the Cougars with all but four coming at the free throw line. He and his mates shot 29-of-35 from the free throw line, 82.9 percent. All told, Charleston out-scored the Catamounts 29-to-9 from the charity stripe.
CofC and No. 2 seed Elon square off in the second semifinal Sunday at 8:30 p.m., at ExploreAsheville.com Arena inside the Asheville Civic Center. The winner of that game takes on the winner of Davidson-Appalachian State Monday night. All tournament games through the semifinals are broadcast on ESPN3.com.