Nov. 17, 2011
Clinton, S.C. - Redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo led four Catamounts in double figures with a game-high 20 points as Western Carolina out-gunned Presbyterian, 80-73, on Thursday night in nonconference action at the Templeton Center.
WCU (2-1) built a game-high 13-point lead twice inside the game's final five minutes, but the home standing Blue Hose would not go away. Presbyterian trimmed the margin to five points on two separate occasions in the closing moments, but the Catamounts converted all eight free throw attempts to secure the victory - the eighth-straight in the overall series while improving to 12-1 all-time.
Sophomore Tawaski King finished a perfect 8-for-8 from the floor for a career-best 16 points while senior Keaton Cole drained three, 3-pointers as a part of his dozen points, matching his season-high with three steals to pace the Catamounts. King's career performance nearly mirrored Presbyterian's leading scorer, Al'Lonzo Coleman, who finished with 18 points as the two battled in the paint.
Trey Sumler, who was quiet during the opening 20 minutes, rounded out WCU's double-digit scorers by recording his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native scored 14 points and boarded six misses after halftime, while also dishing out three assists in the winning effort.
After trailing by a bucket early, King gave the Catamounts the lead for what proved to be for good on the third lead change of the game off a jumper at the 17:39 mark of the first half. WCU led by as many as seven, 31-24, as Cole buried a trey just inside the two-minute mark before intermission with the Catamounts carrying a 34-28 lead into the locker room.
Presbyterian (2-2) managed to cut the Catamount lead down to one point four times in the opening eight minutes of the second half including 34-33 just 1:12 out of the locker room and at 51-50 on a pair of Khalid Mutakabbir free throws at the 12:09 mark. Following the second such one-point deficit, WCU methodically pulled away over the next seven minutes by using a 16-to-4 run to take a game-high lead of 13 points with five minutes to play. Preston Ross scored five of his seven points during that stretch for WCU, adding seven rebounds in the win, while Brandon Boggs tallied eight of his nine points after the break.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Sumler handed the Catamounts the 13-point cushion again at the 3:46 mark. Presbyterian would close back within five points twice inside the game's final minute, but WCU held them off by making all eight free throw attempts.
Coleman and Josh Johnson both recorded 18 points in the loss for Presbyterian with Johnson connecting on 4-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. Pierre Miller scored 17 points with six rebounds while Mutakabbir rounded out four in double figures for the Blue Hose with 14 points.
Both teams shot well in the up-tempo contest, connecting on an identical 16-of-29 from the field in the second half with the Catamounts outscoring PC, 46-45, after the break. The Blue Hose held a slim, 38-36, advantage on points in the paint while WCU outrebounded PC, 28-to-24 including a 10-5 edge in offensive boards.
Western Carolina opens play in the South Padre Island Invitational with a pair of on-site games in Iowa before heading south for the Gulf Coast of Texas. The Catamounts open in Ames, Iowa on Sunday with a 1:30 pm ET / 12:30 pm CT game at Iowa State before traveling to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to play Northern Iowa on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT.
WCU continues play in the event at the South Padre Island Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 25 against Northern Colorado with tip-off at 4:30 pm ET / 3:30 pm CT, with the outcome of the game determining the Saturday afternoon opponent and start time.