Nov. 13, 2010
Clemson, S.C. - Devin Booker scored a career-high 16 points to lead four Tigers in double figures as Clemson used a strong start to the first half to hold off Western Carolina, 87-64, in the season-opener for both squads Friday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Western Carolina, which fell to 0-11 all-time against Clemson, put three players in double figures, led by redshirt freshman Trey Sumler with a career-best 16 points. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native was a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the floor including three, 3-pointers and 5-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. Redshirt junior Harouna Mutombo finished with 12 points, all coming on 3-pointers including the game's first points to hand WCU its largest lead of the night.
Senior Mike Williams added 10 points to round out WCU's double-digit scorers.
"We're a very young team. We're evolving and getting better. This was a tall order for us to start with. We graduated five seniors and we're just re-tooling," said sixth-year head coach Larry Hunter during post-game comments. "I'm not really pleased, but I'm not too discouraged."
With Western Carolina leading by two early 5-3, the Tigers scored 12-straight points to build a lead it would not relinquish. Clemson held the Catamounts off the scoreboard for just over five minutes during the 12-point spurt before Sumler drained his first career 3-pointer from the win to end the drought.
WCU was able to pull within eight, 20-12, midway through the opening stanza, but the Tigers took a 19-point lead late in the half and carried that margin into the halftime locker room, 43-24.
Clemson (1-0) steadily pulled ahead of the Catamounts in the second half, taking a game-high lead of 31 points on a pair of Milton Jennings free throws at the 5:47 mark, 80-49. WCU managed to outscore the Tigers by a 15-to-7 count over the final five minutes including eight-straight points to narrow the margin in the closing minutes to 20.
Behind Booker's 6-of-8 shooting night, fellow post player Jennings finished with 14 points and four assists while guards Tanner Smith and Andre Young finished with 12 and 10, respectively.
Clemson used a strong inside performance, outscoring the Catamounts 42-to-14 in the paint in the win while also outrebounding WCU, 37-29.
Western Carolina returns to action on Tuesday, Nov. 16 as it travels to the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Ill., to face DePaul at 7:30 pm CT / 8:30 pm ET. The Blue Demons, who open their 2010-11 season on Sunday against Chicago State, are led by former Clemson coach, Oliver Purnell.