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Late Lead Slips Away as WCU Falls at Eastern Kentucky, 72-70

Sophomore James Sinclair had a solid night against EKU, scoring 10 points with eight rebounds and five assists.

Dec. 1, 2012

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Richmond, Ky. - Mike DiNunno broke just the third tie score with a slicing drive and lay-up to put Eastern Kentucky ahead by two as the home standing Colonels erased a 10-point second half deficit to upend visiting Western Carolina, 72-70, Saturday night in nonconference action at McBrayer Arena.

Leading by 11 at halftime, Western Carolina (3-5) held a tenuous 10 point advantage just inside of seven minutes remaining in regulation after an offensive rebound and tip-in by James Sinclair. But EKU, which is off to its best start in 66 years, would not go away. The Colonels were able to close to within four points on four separate occasions before an 8-0 spurt inside the final two and a half minutes gave the home squad a two-point lead - its first since early in the first half.

Corey Walden converted a WCU turnover into a transitional lay-up to make it a two-point game, 68-66, with two minutes to play. On the ensuing possession, the Catamounts missed three shots, pulling down a trio of offensive rebounds but were unable to convert to build upon the advantage. After the third offensive board, EKU capitalized on a Walden steal with Jeff Johnson sending a pass ahead to Glenn Cosey who converted a game-tying lay-up with 1:15 remaining.

Deadlocked at 68, WCU went back inside to try and find a bucket but were unable to break the tie. On the other end, Cosey found the range on a jumper with 27 seconds remaining to give EKU a two-point edge, 70-68, before Trey Sumler was able to force the third tie at 70 with a runner with 16 ticks showing on the game clock.

On EKU's final offensive possession, DiNunno took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the court, maneuvering through the Catamount defense to lay-in the game winner with 2.3 seconds remaining. Sumler tried to launch a three-quarter court length show at the buzzer but the desperation heave missed.

Junior post Tawaski King led three Catamounts in double figures with 18 points, taking over on both ends of the floor for WCU early in the second half. The Dublin, Ga., native scored eight-straight points for the Catamounts at one point after intermission and finished 6-of-9 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. King finished with six rebounds including four on the offensive end.

Freshman Mike Brown came off the bench to score a career-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting while sophomore James Sinclair scored 10 with eight rebounds and five assists. Trey Sumler and Brandon Boggs both scored nine points in the loss with Tom Tankelewicz chipping in eight including a pair of 3-pointers.

Cosey, who entered the game averaging 18.3 points per game, was held in check for most of the contest before finishing with 15 points to lead EKU. DiNunno recorded 14 points including the game-winner while Walden and Jeff Johnson posted 11 and 10 points apiece, respectively. DiNunno added seven assists in the win.

WCU took control of the see-saw first half around the 12 minute mark, holding the lead until the final 1:15 in the second half. The Catamounts closed the first half on a 12-to-3 run and carried an 11-point, 43-32, lead into the halftime locker room after shooting 57.7-percent from the field which included a 6-of-11 showing from behind the 3-point arc.

The Catamounts out rebounded EKU, 35-to-25, but were outscored in the paint, 42-26. WCU converted 16 offensive rebounds into 22 second chance points. EKU only managed a two-point lead in Saturday night's game.

Western Carolina wraps up its seven-game road swing on Tuesday, Dec. 4 as it travels to Champaign, Ill., to face its second-straight undefeated squad in the Illinois Fighting Illini. Illinois, which has been idle since Nov. 28, boasts a 7-0 overall record and is ranked 22nd in both major college basketball polls. Tip-off from Assembly Hall is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT.

Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina saw its two-game winning streak snapped with the road loss at Eastern Kentucky ... It was the sixth-consecutive game away from home for WCU, which will play one more in the seven-straight road games;

- The Catamounts remained winless against Eastern Kentucky in Richmond, falling to 0-3 all-time ... It was the first meeting between the two in Kentucky since 1970 - WCU won the 2011 meeting in Cullowhee, its first win in the head-to-head meetings;

- Tawaski King led WCU with 18 points, stretching his current, career-long consecutive double-digit streak to nine games including all eight of 2012-13 and the SoCon Tournament finale in 2011-12;

- Trey Sumler saw his career-long, consecutive double-digit scoring streak snapped at 14, finishing with nine points ... the Rocky Mount, N.C., native did move with eight points of reaching 1,000 in his Catamount career, though, entering his next game with 992 career points ... Sumler would become the 40th different Catamount to score at least 1,000 points in a career.