Nov. 29, 2012
Greenville, S.C. - Western Carolina put four players in double figures including a game-high 24 points from Trey Sumler and 17 second half points from Tom Tankelewicz as the Catamounts pulled away from Furman in the second half to beat the Paladins, 79-65, Wednesday night at Timmons Arena in the Southern Conference opener for both teams.
The Catamounts (3-4, 1-0 SoCon) were sparked by five 3-pointers from Tankelewicz in the second half as the Apex, N.C., native scored 14-straight points for WCU amidst a 20-to-6 run to break open a one-point, 39-38, game and pull out to a 15-point advantage. Playing in his hometown, redshirt junior Josh Mendenhall scored a career-best 12 points off the bench on 6-of-7 shooting with junior post Tawaski King rounding out WCU's double-digit scorers with 11 points.
Sumler, who entered the game ranked second in the SoCon with an 18 point-per-game average, was 7-of-15 shooting, dished out seven assists and grabbed seven boards for the Catamounts, who won their second-straight game.
Furman (2-4, 0-1) led majority of the first half, pulling out to its largest lead of six points early in the opening stanza. Sumler connected on a fast-break lay-up just inside the four-minute mark before intermission to hand Western Carolina its first lead of the game, 20-18. The Catamounts closed the final six minutes of the first half on a 12-to-3 run to take a 27-21 lead into the break.
The Paladins cut the deficit to 37-36 after the Catamounts had pulled away by eight points early in the second half. However, WCU mounted another run, outscoring Furman 20-to-6 to pull away by double-digits. Sumler made a jumper before Tankelewicz drained 3-pointers on three-consecutive offensive possessions to put the Catamounts ahead seven. A fourth trey handed WCU a nine-point advantage with a dribble drive and lay-up by Tankelewicz gave the Catamounts their first double-digit lead.
All told, the Catamounts led by as much as 16 in the second half, shooting 58.1-percent from the floor after halftime.
The home squad wouldn't go away, though, as Furman used an 11-to-2 spurt to close within six, 63-57, around the five minute mark, but Sumler answered with a 3-pointer to push the margin back to nine with Preston Ross adding a slam dunk and a fifth Tankelewicz trey to push the margin back to double-digits. Sumler would make all eight free throws inside the final 69 seconds to help the Catamounts shoot a season-high 82.4-percent from the charity stripe.
Colin Reddick led four Paladins in double figures with 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. On just 3-of-11 shooting, Stephen Croone scored 12 points while Bobby Austin and Kendrec Ferrara both chipped in with 10 apiece.
Western Carolina continues its current seven-game road swing by traveling to Richmond, Ky., to face the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday, Dec. 1. It's just the fourth meeting all-time between WCU and EKU. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
Western Carolina at Furman - Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina snapped a two-game losing skid to Furman after dropping both games to the Paladins a year ago ... the Catamounts won for just the third-time in 10 all-time meetings at Timmons Arena (3-7);
- WCU improved to 16-20 all-time in Southern Conference openers with Wednesday night's win, 10-11 all-time when the opener is played on the road ... Under eighth-year head coach, the Catamounts won their sixth league opener, improving to 6-2 in the first SoCon game;
- Guard Trey Sumler scored a game-high 24 points marking the 56th time he's scored in double figures, 21st time he's led WCU in scoring and the eighth time in his career that he's reached the 20-point plateau;
- Sumler stretched his current, career-long streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 14-consecutive including the final seven games of 2011-12 and the first seven games of 2012-13;
- After scoring 24 on Wednesday night, Sumler currently has 983 career points, just 17 points shy of becoming the 40th different Catamount all-time to surpass the 1,000-career point plateau;
- Junior post Tawaski King scored 11 points to run his consecutive double-digit scoring outings to eight including all seven games this season and the SoCon title game last March in Asheville, N.C.;
- Two Catamounts matched or set a career high in the road win over Furman ... Redshirt junior wing Josh Mendenhall - playing in his hometown of Greenville, S.C. - scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to mark his WCU career-best ... Tom Tankelewicz matched his career-high coming in consecutive games - Tankelewicz scored all 17 of his points in the second half