Nov. 14, 2011
Related Links: Men's Basketball Catamount Spotlight
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina men's basketball opens the home portion of its 2011-12 schedule on Tuesday night as it hosts the Montreat College Cavaliers in the Ramsey Center. The Catamounts look to bounce-back from a season-opening setback at South Carolina last Friday, with tip-off set for 7:00 pm.
Tuesday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee and 920 AM WPTL in Canton, as well as through online streaming audio through Stretch Internet at www.CatamountSports.com. The Catamount All-Access video stream (subscription required) is also available through the WCU athletics website.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, fans coming to the game Tuesday - and remaining home games through November and early December - are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the games to help benefit both the Jackson County Christmas Store and Toys for Tots.
Western Carolina (0-1) returns to the friendly confines of the Ramsey Center for the first time this season after posting an 11-1 (.917) overall mark a year ago. The Catamounts have also been victorious in 38 of their last 44 home games (.864). Against non-conference foes at home, WCU has won nine-straight in the Ramsey Center and 13 of the last 15 (.867) overall.
All told since 2003, the Catamount basketball team is 30-5 (.857) against non-conference foes at home.
WCU will also again attempt to help seventh-year head coach Larry Hunter reach a coaching milestone on Tuesday night. Hunter enters the game with 599 career victories, just one shy of reaching 600 wins in his career. According to available research, Hunter would become the 61st NCAA men's basketball coach all-time - and 19th active - to reach the 600-win plateau.
Montreat, a NAIA institution, is a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) which includes other familiar schools such as Tennessee Wesleyan, Milligan and Virginia Intermont. The Cavaliers have dropped five of their first six games entering Tuesday's match-up with the Catamounts including most recently dropping a 103-73 game at Presbyterian College - WCU's next opponent on Thursday night in Clinton, S.C.
Montreat's roster features a familiar face in Christian Tonkins who played for the Catamounts during the 2008-09 season prior to transferring. Tonkins appeared in three games that season, scoring three points on one made 3-pointer.
The Catamounts and Cavaliers have met twice previously on the basketball hardwood during both the 2004 and `05 seasons with WCU winning both (2-0). In the first-ever meeting in 2004, former post standout Rans Brempong scored a career-best 22 points to lead the second half shooting barrage of 64.5-percent as the Catamounts won, 94-66. Leading by just four at halftime, 34-30, WCU outscored Montreat 60-36 in the second half.
One year later, the Catamounts needed a late game surge to pull away for the 76-59 victory over the Cavaliers. Antonio Russell led five WCU players in double figures with 19 points while current assistant coach Eric Wilson scored 17 including 8-of-10 from the free throw line.
WCU got 11 points from both redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo and redshirt sophomore Trey Sumler against the Gamecocks, but could not overcome South Carolina's size in the season-opening, 75-50, road loss at the Colonial Life Arena. Mutombo paced the squad with eight rebounds including three on the offensive end while Sumler dished out a team-best four assists.
Turnovers plagued the Catamounts against the South Carolina full-court press allowing the SEC-foe to pull away in an otherwise closely contested first half.
Western Carolina looks for its first victory of the season on Tuesday evening in its first of just three home dates before the Christmas holiday. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.