Nov. 16, 2013
Lynchburg, Va. - Senior guard Tom Tankelewicz came off the bench and knocked down 23 points as the Western Carolina men's basketball team ended a four-game, six day spurt with a 68-63 road win over Liberty Saturday night in the Vines Center in a nonconference game.
Led by Tankelewicz's 23 points, the Catamount bench outscored the Flames' bench 39-15. WCU's bench received six points from Justin Browning, five points from Torrion Brummitt, three points from Rhett Harrelson and two points from Mike Brown. Tawaski King was the only other Catamount in double-figures as the senior forward added ten points.
Trailing 11-10 at the 11-minute mark, Tankelewicz went on a 6-0 run with a three and a three-point play to give WCU a 16-11 lead a minute later; it was a lead they would never relinquish over the remaining 30 minutes of basketball.
Following a Liberty free throw, the Catamounts mounted a 6-0 run on two baskets by Browning and a jumper by Brown to push the WCU lead out to double-digits, 22-12, with less than eight minutes to play in the first half.
WCU extended the margin to as high as 12 points twice, 29-17 and 31-19, before Liberty trimmed the gap down to seven points, 33-26, when John Caleb Sanders made a layup at the halftime buzzer for the Flames.
Coming out of the half, Liberty continued to chip away at the WCU lead until a three by Davon Marshall pulled the Flames within one point, 45-44, with 11:55 left on the clock. Three free throws by Harrelson and a Trey Sumler layup quickly pushed the Catamount lead back to six points, 50-44, a minute and a half later.
Over the final ten minutes of play WCU led by as high as seven points four times and as low as two points once as the Catamounts escaped with the 68-63 road win. The game avenged a 63-62 loss last season suffered by WCU in the Ramsey Center.
The Purple and Gold shot 37 percent from the floor, 35 percent from three and a season-high 85 percent from the free throw line. The Catamounts converted on 17 of their 20 free throws in the game including the final four by Sumler with under 13 seconds to play.
Liberty ended at 37 percent overall, 23 percent from three and 75 percent from the line. The Flames made 18 of their 24 free throw attempts.
WCU barely won the turnover battle forcing 12 turnovers while only handing the ball over 11 times. However, the Catamounts capitalized with 21 points off of the Flames miscues.
Western Carolina (3-2) stays on the road with the final three games of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic hosted by Kent State on November 21 through November 23. WCU will play host Kent State at 7 p.m. Thursday before taking on Niagara and USC Upstate in the final two games Friday and Saturday. The tournament will wrap up a ten-day, six-game road swing that started at No. 18 Oregon Wednesday, November 13.
Western Carolina at Liberty Game Notes
- WCU won the opening tip for the third time this season and scored for the first points of the game for the third time this season.
- Liberty scored the first points of the second half; it was the second time this season WCU gave up the first points of the second half.
- Tom Tankelewicz's 23 points is one point shy of his career-high mark; He scored 24 points at No. 15 Georgetown on December 15, 2012;
- Tankelewicz has scored in double figures in four of the five games to open the season.
- Justin Brown scored six points in the game matching his career-high; it is his second consecutive game with the mark as he tallied six points against Virginia Tech.
- With 16 offensive rebounds against Liberty, WCU has outrebounded four of the five teams this season on the offensive glass;
- WCU forced 12 Liberty turnovers Saturday and have the opponent to turn the ball over more times in four of the five games this season.
- The Catamounts' 85 percent mark from the free throw line is the first time WCU has shot over 80 percent from the charity stripe since making 8-of-9 free throws against the College of Charleston on February 20, 2013.