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Catamounts Pull Away from Mars Hill for Home-Opening Win, 95-68

Trey Sumler led five Catamounts in double figures with a season-high 21 points. Sumler stretched his consecutive double-digit scoring outings to nine-straight. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

Nov. 12, 2012

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Trey Sumler led five Catamounts in double figures with a season-high 21 points as Western Carolina pulled away from mountain-foe Mars Hill in the second half for a 95-68 nonconference victory Sunday night in the Ramsey Center.

All 13 of WCU's players on roster played in the home-opener with all but one recording points against the Lions as the Catamounts won their home opening game for the seventh-straight season.

Sumler scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half while also dishing out six assists to pace WCU to its first victory of the season. Junior post Tawaski King poured in 14 points while back court classmate Brandon Boggs finished with 13 on 5-of-9 shooting. Tom Tankelewicz continued his hot start from beyond the arc, knocking down three, 3-pointers as a part of an 11-point outing with freshman Mike Brown rounding out the double-digit scorers, nearly pulling out a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Junior Preston Ross just missed double figures with eight points while sophomore guard James Sinclair tallied seven in the winning effort.

Despite surrendering a quick 9-0 run to WCU to open the game, Mars Hill managed to stay close most of the first half. The Lions clawed back to within two points on two separate occasions after the Catamounts' initial surge, the second of which coming on a Jalen Witherspoon 3-pointer at the 11:36 mark to make it 14-12 in favor of the home squad.

Leading by just four, 23-19, at the 8:24 mark of the first half, Western Carolina took control of the game by closing the first half on a 27-to-6 run to pull away for a 48-23 halftime lead. Mars Hill missed its first seven shots during the Catamount run, while WCU shot 11-of-17 (64.7-percent) during the decisive spurt.

Over the final 20 minutes, the Catamount advantage did not dip below 24 points and reached a game-high 30 on a 3-pointer by Brown at the 8:49 mark.

Carter Wright led Mars Hill in scoring with 15 points while post Khouraichi Thiam pitched in a double-double of 12 points and 14 boards. Daron Guyton finished with 11 points off the bench for the Lions.

Western Carolina shot 60.7-percent from the floor for the game including 42.9-percent (9-of-21) from beyond the 3-point arc. Defensively, the Catamounts limited the undersized Lions to 31.3-percent from the field including just 26.7 (8-of-30) in the first half. Mars Hill was also just 7-of-25 from long-range, 28-percent.

Western Carolina now hits the road for seven-straight games away from Cullowhee including four in the 2012 Cancun Challenge. The Catamounts visit Wichita State on Thursday, Nov. 15 and Western Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 17 in the on-campus portion of the Challenge before traveling to Cancun, Mexico, for two games at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. WCU faces Austin Peay on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and either Gardner-Webb or Howard the following day on Nov. 23.