Dec. 8, 2011
West Lafayette, Ind. - Balanced scoring and a strong defensive effort in the first half led Western Carolina to an eight-point edge halfway through Wednesday night's nonconference tilt with Purdue. However, a 10-0 spurt out of the halftime locker room by the Boilermakers erased the Catamounts' edge and Purdue held off upset-minded WCU for a 65-60 win at Mackey Arena.
WCU limited Purdue to just 23-percent (7-of-30) shooting over the open 20 minutes, while also holding the Boilermakers to their fewest first half points of the season with a 29-21 edge. Purdue, which has won 23-straight home games, outscored the Catamounts, 44-to-31, in the second half en route to the victory.
"I'm proud of the effort we gave tonight. I thought we competed very, very well - we're growing," said head coach Larry Hunter during post-game comments on the Catamount Sports Network. "We had way too many turnovers tonight, had some sloppy execution at times, but we kept battling defensively. I thought we were terrific in the first half defensively. They got into us with dribble drives, got themselves to the foul line quite a bit in the second half. We struggled because we had some key people out with foul trouble and had some slippage offensively."
He added, "They had that 10-0 run to start the second half that got them back in the game, got their crowd back into the game, but we didn't go away. We just hung right in there, got the lead back once but were never able to build back a sizable advantage."
Redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo led three Catamounts in double figures with his first double-double of the season, tallying 18 points for the third-straight game and adding a career-high tying 12 rebounds. The Pickering, Ontario, native finished with eight points from the free throw line and paced the squad with three steals. Redshirt sophomore Trey Sumler and senior Keaton Cole both recorded 15 points apiece, both draining three, 3-pointers. Sumler added eight boards including three on the offensive end, while Cole dished out three assists.
Catamount second leading scorer, sophomore Brandon Boggs, was limited to five points on just 17 minutes of court time, battling on-going foul trouble before being disqualified with his fifth at the 11 minute mark of the second half.
Preseason All-America selection Robbie Hummel led the Boilermakers with 19 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists. Lewis Jackson chipped in 15 points including nine from the charity stripe. Ryne Smith added nine points on three made 3-pointers, finishing 3-of-7 as a part of the team's collective 6-of-18 (33.3%).
Trailing by five, 11-6, WCU outscored Purdue 21-to-9 including five-straight points to initially tie the game at 11 in the opening stanza to take a seven-point lead, 27-20, with two minutes to play until the break. Sumler then hit his patented mid-range floating jumper as time expired on the first half clock to give the Catamounts the 29-21 edge at halftime.
WCU's eight-point edge over Purdue at the half marked the largest intermission deficit of the season for the Boilermakers.
However, out of the halftime locker room, Purdue scored the first 10 points while holding WCU off the scoreboard until just before the 15 minute mark to reclaim the lead, 31-29. During the Boilers' run, WCU missed all four shots it attempted while also committing four costly turnovers that prevented the squad from even getting a look at the basket to try and stop the run.
Mutombo made 1-of-2 free throws at the 15:08 mark for WCU's first points of the second half. A Sumler 3-pointer off a feed by Cole gave the Catamounts a short-lived advantage at 37-35, but an Anthony Johnson lay-up at the 10:39 mark handed the Boilermakers the lead for what proved to be for good.
Purdue (8-2) twice stretched its lead to nine points, doing so on a Hummel 3-pointer with three minutes remaining on the clock. But Sumler answered with a trey at the other end as WCU continued to claw. The Catamounts would scratch back within four points three times inside the final minute but could get no closer as Purdue held on from the free throw line.
The Catamounts held their own on the glass on Wednesday night, matching Purdue's 39 rebounds including 17 offensive boards as compared to 18 by the home squad. Neither squad was able to manage a double-digit lead with WCU leading by eight at intermission and the Boilermakers taking a nine-point edge in the second half.
Western Carolina returns home this Saturday in its final game before a 10-day break for final exams as it hosts the Kent State Golden Flashes. Tip-off in the Ramsey Center is set for 2:00 pm.