CHARLESTON, S.C. - Trailing by as many as 18 points in the second half, the Western Carolina men’s basketball team attempted a late comeback against the College of Charleston but fell 69-60 inside the TD Arena Thursday night. The Catamounts led early in the game but CofC took 16 more trips to the charity stripe than the Catamounts which proved to be too tough to overcome. Fifty of WCU’s 60 points came from three players including junior Mike Amius, senior Deriece Parks and junior Marc Gosselin.
Amius led the way with a career-high 22 points while ripping down seven rebounds. The junior was 6-of-8 from the field and 10-of-12 at the charity stripe. He scored 13 of WCU’s first 15 points in the game as he kept the Catamounts ahead of the Cougars early on.
Parks added 18 points, which is just one point off his career-high of 19, and career-highs in rebounds, eight, assists, four and steals, four. Gosselin registered his second double-double of the year as he scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
The victory gives College of Charleston a 5-2 mark to open the season while the Catamounts fell to 2-6 overall.
CofC edged the Catamounts in rebounds (38-37) and turnovers (13-12) while the Catamounts topped the Cougars in field goal percentage (38.2-36.7). The major difference came at the charity stripe as the Cougars knocked down 24 of their 36 attempts while the Catamounts hit just 13 of their 20 shots.
College of Charleston placed three scorers in double-figures led by Joe Chealey who had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Grant Riller chipped in 17 points and a team-high three steals.
Both teams struggled offensively to open the game as the score was 1-0 in favor of CofC after two minutes of action. WCU picked up its first points of the game as Amius swatted away a CofC shot attempt and raced down the court to collect a pass from Parks which he finished with a slam to put the Catamounts ahead 2-1. The two teams would go back-and-forth with WCU holding a slight advantage early. A free throw by Amius with 11:05 left in the period gave WCU its largest lead of the game at 13-8.
The Cougars responded with an 8-0 run to retake a 16-13 advantage with just under nine minutes to play in the opening half. The Cougar lead would balloon up to eight points on a 3-pointer by Chealey at the 5:04 mark of the half. The Catamounts responded with a quick 6-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to just two with three minutes remaining. Senior Devin Peterson, Gosselin and Parks all chipped in two points in the run. Parks would tie the game a few possessions later as a jumper knotted the score at 27 with 1:37 left in the half. After a CofC three, Parks answered with a three of his own to tie the score once again with under a minute to play. The Cougars would close out the half with a 5-0 run which included a 3-pointer at the buzzer which was reviewed and confirmed giving the Cougars a 35-30 halftime advantage.
CofC opened the second half with a 17-6 run which opened up a 52-36 lead for the Cougars with 14:36 left in the game. The Cougars would maintain the double-digit advantage for most of the second half eventually building the lead to 18 with just over four minutes left to play at 66-48. A 12-3 run by the Catamounts cut that deficit to just nine with 28 seconds remaining but the run would be too little too late as the Cougars held off the surging Catamounts. Senior Ashley Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers during the run while Amius added a dunk, a layup and a pair of free throws to the effort. Neither team would score in the final 28 seconds as CofC hung on for the 69-60 victory.
The Catamounts will return home to face former conference rival Appalachian State this Monday, Dec. 4 at 7 pm. The entire Pride of the Mountains marching band will be in attendance to perform during the game while the first 300 Western Carolina students will receive a Beat App! t-shirt.