Jan. 2, 2008
Cullowhee, N.C. - Both the Western Carolina men's and women's basketball teams continue road trips into the New Year on Thursday night. The Catamounts travel into the upstate of South Carolina to battle the Furman Paladins for the first of two-straight Southern Conference road tilts, while the Lady Catamounts have three-straight away from home beginning with its final non-conference away trip against UNC Wilmington.
The two games are both slated to tip at 7:00 pm. There will not be radio coverage of the women's game at UNCW - however, the Catamounts' game against the Paladins will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network. The men's game can be heard in Western North Carolina on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee and 680 AM WRGC in Sylva, with both stations offering streaming audio online at www.WWCUFM.com and www.WRGC.com.
The Catamounts (4-8, 0-2 SoCon) are coming off one of their best performances of the season last Saturday after leading nearly three quarters of the way against #37 North Carolina State at the RBC Center. The Wolfpack rode 27 made free throws and subsequent WCU foul trouble to take its first lead midway through the second half. NCSU freshman J.J. Hickson scored a WCU opponent seasonal high 33 points to guide the Pack to the win and thwart Western's upset bid.
WCU was led by sophomore Brandon Giles with 25 points, the only Catamount to reach double digits on the day. Freshman guard Michael Porrini added nine and sophomore Jake Robinson chipped in eight in the effort.
Western led by as many as 11 in the second half after staking itself to an early lead in the first by shooting 70-percent (7-of-10) from long range and only committing a pair of turnovers. However, nine second half giveaways, a grand total of 28 team fouls and the play of Hickson were the difference.
On Thursday night, Western will not only be seeking its first conference win of the season - 0-2 after a road loss at Elon and a heart-breaking, two-point defeat at home to the College of Charleston - but also its first road victory of the year (0-5). Furman (1-11, 0-3 SoCon) earned its first victory of the season last weekend over Howard in tournament action at St. Mary's (Calif.).
Tip-off Thursday night from the newly renovated Timmons Arena is set for 7:00 pm.
The Lady Catamounts (8-4, 0-1 SoCon) has its first of three-straight road games on Thursday night as Western visits UNC Wilmington for the first-time since 2000. WCU has dropped three-straight to the Seahawks including a seven-point, 75-68, loss in the most recent meeting in December of 2000 at the UNCW Beach Blast Tournament to trail in the all-time series, 1-5.
WCU's lone victory over its in-state rival came in 1991 with a three-point, 74-71, win in Wilmington.
Much like the men, the women are coming off a tough road loss to North Carolina State, falling 72-53 last Sunday at historic Reynolds Coliseum. The Lady Catamounts, who are playing without the services of 6-4 junior, center Brooke Johnson, hung with the Wolfpack through the opening 20 minutes, trailing by just four at intermission. However, in the second half, NCSU went inside to exploit foul trouble on junior Kendra Eaton and the missing height of Johnson to pull away for the 72-53 victory.
Thursday night marks a homecoming of sorts for two Lady Catamounts. Assistant coach Stephanie McCormick spent four years on staff with the Seahawk women from 1997 through 2001. Also, senior guard Ashley Pellom is from the area having played high school basketball at North Brunswick High in nearby Leland, N.C.
The Seahawks (8-2), who have won five of their last seven games, are led by two-time Colonial Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week, freshman Brittany Blackwell and red shirt junior Sasha Taylor. The duo average 13.8 and 13.9 points per game, respectively.
Tip-off from Trask Coliseum is set for 7:00 pm.