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Bench Sparks WCU to Season-Opening Win Over Wittenberg

Justin Browning was one of four Catamount players off the bench to boost WCU in the win.

Nov. 8, 2013

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Cullowhee, N.C. - The Western Carolina men's basketball team opened the 2013-14 season with a 77-55 win over Wittenberg University highlighted by 30 points from the Catamounts' bench including a career-high 12 points from sophomore forward Torrin Brummitt Friday night in the Ramsey Center.

Brummitt led the unit off the bench as he added a career-high six rebounds to go along with his 12 points. Sophomore guard Mike Brown scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe. Brown and fellow sub and sophomore guard, Rhett Harrelson, each handed out three assists. Not all of the Catamounts' bench production came in the form of points as sophomore forward Justin Browning was electric on the defensive end for WCU. Browning had three steals and three blocks to go along with two points and two assists on the offensive end.

"I thought our depth in the first half with Mike Brown, Rhett Harrelson, Justin Browning and Torrin Brummitt is when we opened up the lead to double-digits," said head WCU coach Larry Hunter. "Those guys subbed in, they weren't quite as efficient in the second half, but they did a good job [in the first half]."

The four subbed in with 12:53 on the clock in the first half with the score knotted at 10 and immediately impacted play. Brummitt set the tone of a three minute span with a block and sparked WCU with the first three points of an 8-3 run that ended with the Catamounts up 20-13 with 9:48 remaining. During the stretch, Browning had two steals and a fast-break dunk that brought the Catamount crowd to its feet.

After back-to-back baskets by Wittenberg including a three from Cole Bond that cut the WCU lead to 20-18, the Catamounts closed out the remaining 8:12 of play in the half with a 25-7 run to take a 20-point lead, 45-25, into the intermission. The run to close out the half was more than enough as the Catamounts maintained the margin in the second half as they earned the 22-point win, 77-55.

"Overall we shot the ball fairly well," added Hunter, who spent 13 seasons as the head coach at Wittenberg - his first stint as a head coach. "We had too many careless turnovers in the second half, and we need to clean that up a little bit. It is a good opener, a good win for us and a good start."

WCU ended the game 49 percent, 27-of-55, from the floor and limited Wittenberg to 39 percent, 20-of-51, overall. The Tigers did outshoot the Catamounts from three knocking down 10-of-25 3-point shots for 40 percent compared to WCU's 30 percent mark on 6-of-20 shooting from long range.

The Catamounts stingy defense created 21 Tiger turnovers resulting in 32 points, 13 of which came on fast breaks. WCU handed the ball over only 12 times for 11 Wittenberg points of turnovers, two of which came in transition.

Overall WCU placed four players in double figures as senior guard Tom Tankelewicz was the game's leading scorer with 15 points highlighted by his long range touch, 4-of-7 from three. Junior James Sinclair followed with 13 points, four assists and a career-high four steals for WCU. Brandon Boggs collected a team-high eight rebounds and contributed nine points. Boggs continues to inch toward becoming the 41st Catamount to break the 1,000 career point mark; the senior now has 955 points following Friday night's game.

Wittenberg did not place a player in double digits as Steven Newell led the way with nine points - all of which came on threes. Sam Collins and Alex Fultz each chipped in eight points, while Scott Masin grabbed a team-high eight boards.

The Catamounts stay in the Ramsey Center as they host UNC Asheville Monday, November 11 at 7 p.m. before embarking on a 10-day, six-game road trip that begins with a cross country clash at No. 19/18 Oregon on Wednesday, November 13.

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