Nov. 20, 2012
Cancun, Mexico - Down by three points with possession of the ball in the closing seconds, Western Carolina was able to get an offensive rebound stick-back to pull within one, but ultimately fell a point shy against the Austin Peay Governors, falling 72-71 Tuesday afternoon in the 2012 Cancun Challenge, presented by Triple Crown Sports.
After leading by as many as 14 in the first half, Western Carolina (1-4) found itself down by 10 inside the final 10 minutes of regulation as Austin Peay scorched the nets at the Moon Palace Resort for 70-percent shooting after intermission. However, with a nine-second differential between the shot and game clock, the Catamounts kept clawing and forced a Governor turnover inside the final 20 seconds while trailing by three.
On the ensuing possession, WCU managed to work a would-be game-tying shot from the left wing by James Sinclair, but missed off the left side of the rim. Post Tawaski King corralled the miss and went up strong to the bucket in hopes of drawing a foul. He connected on the contested shot from short range, but could not draw the foul leaving the Catamounts one-point short on the scoreboard.
Western Carolina put four players in double figures as redshirt junior Trey Sumler scored a team-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting while Preston Ross tallied his second-straight double-digit scoring outing with 14 points and a team-best nine rebounds. The Fayetteville, N.C., native also dished out a career-high four assists and made two steals.
Rounding out WCU's double-figure scorers was King with 12 and sophomore James Sinclair with 10 points and a career-best six assists. Brandon Boggs poured in nine points for the Catamounts in the loss.
WCU raced out of the gates to a quick, 8-0, lead in the opening moments of the game. However, the Govs battled back to tie the game at 14 apiece midway through the opening stanza. The Catamounts then seized control with a 14-to-2 run over the next four and a half minutes to take a 12-point, 28-16, edge with 7:40 remaining before halftime. The advantage was stretched to 14 following a breakaway, two-handed slam dunk by Ross - his second of the half - and was a dozen at halftime after APSU's Anthony Campbell drained a buzzer-beating two-point jumper before intermission.
In the second half, Austin Peay chipped away at the Catamount advantage, dropping the deficit below double-digits for the final time on a Campbell 3-pointer at the 14:46 mark. Switching to a zone defense, the Govs stymied the WCU offense while starting to find their rhythm on the other end of the court. Herdie Lawrence gave Austin Peay its first lead of the game on a pair of free throws at the nine minute remaining mark.
The Governors used an 11-0 spurt to take their largest lead of 10, 68-58, with 4:38 remaining in regulation before the Catamounts were able to swing the tide back the other direction. WCU was able to get within one-point in the closing seconds, but ran out of time on the offensive end in the loss.
Austin Peay (2-2) put three in double figures as point guard Travis Betran led all scorers with 22 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Campbell finished with 21 points and five boards while Chris Freeman tallied a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Thanks to its 70-percent (14-of-20) shooting in the second half, Austin Peay finished 50-percent (26-of-52) for the game. The Catamounts shot 53-percent (18-of-34) in the first half but cooled to just 34-percent (13-of-38) after intermission to shoot 43-percent for the contest.
WCU won the battle in the paint, outscoring the Governors 34-to-22 in the three-second area, while also converting 16 Govs turnovers into 17 points. The Catamounts held a 37-34 edge in rebounding, outscoring APSU 13-to-4 in second chance points.
Western Carolina concludes play in the 2012 Cancun Challenge on Wednesday afternoon, playing in the third-place game of the Mayan Division in the day's first game at 1:30 pm ET / 12:30 pm CT. The Catamounts will face the Bison of Howard University which dropped their opening game against Gardner-Webb, 55-43, on Tuesday.