CULLOWHEE, NC – Western Carolina scored eight of the game's final 11 points to break a 72-72 tie and claim a 80-75 win over UNC Greensboro in Southern Conference men's basketball action at the Ramsey Center on Thursday night.
Redshirt freshman Harouna Mutombo finished with a career-high 29 points to lead Western Carolina (7-5, 2-0 SoCon). The Catamounts also got 20 points from Brandon Giles, who played the final 10:54 with four fouls.
UNCG (1-11, 0-3) got 23 points from Mikko Koivisto, two shy of a career high and his second game of 20 or more points this season. He tied a career-high with six three pointers in the game.
Freshman forward Damian Eargle added 13 points and Ben Stywall chipped in with 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
UNCG rallied from a 13-point first half deficit to lead by nine with 9:09 to play. However, a 17-2 run by Western Carolina erased that advantage as the Catamounts' gamble of leaving Giles in with four fouls paid off.
The second half featured five ties and eight lead changes. After Eargle hit one of two at the foul line to make 73-72, Mutombo converted a conventional three-point play to give the Catamounts a 75-73 advantage with 1:23 to play. UNCG's Stywall was fouled 12 seconds later and hit both free throws to tie the score.
But Mutombo was fouled on the other end with one minute left and made both to give the Catamounts the lead for good, 77-75. UNCG turned the ball over three straight possessions trying to get the lead back.
After jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead, the Spartans went into an early offensive funk again, suffering a nearly six-minute field goal drought. Western Carolina scored the next 12 points to take the lead. Jake Robinson's three-pointer with 8:24 left in the half gave the Catamounts their first double digit lead of the night at 25-15.
With Koivisto scoring 11 points in the first 15 minutes, the Spartans trimmed the margin back to single digits. Koivisto's three with 40 seconds before intermission capped a 7-0 spurt that cut it to 38-34 at the half.
Five straight points to open the second half, including Koivisto's fourth trey of the night, gave UNCG its first lead since the opening minutes, 39-38. The teams went back and forth for a while from there, UNCG grabbing as big of a lead as four and Western pulling back ahead briefly a couple of times.
Landon Clement's trey from the right wing gave UNCG a 53-48 lead with 12:12 to play as the Spartans held the Catamounts to just four field goals in 13 minutes going back into the first half.
WCU's leading scorer Giles picked up his fourth foul with 10:54 to play and the Catamounts decided to gamble and leave him out on the floor. Meanwhile, Kendall Toney found Stywall on the fast break on UNCG's next trip down the floor for a dunk and the Spartans had their biggest lead to that point at seven.
The lead hit nine, but UNCG had just one field goal in the next five minutes resulting in a 17-2 run by Western Carolina that erased the lead and gave Western Carolina a 70-64 advantage with six minutes to play. UNCG responded with six straight, though, to tie it again at 70-all.
WESTERN CAROLINA 80, UNCG 75
UNCG (1-11, 0-3 SoCon)
Mikko Koivisto 6-13 5-5 23; Damian Eargle 6-10 1-2 13; Ben Stywall 3-6 5-5 11; Pete Brown 2-3 4-4 8; Kendall Toney 3-6 0-0 7; Landon Clement 2-5 0-0 6; Daniel Oliver 1-4 2-4 5; DeAngelo Jackson 1-4 0-0 2; Montel Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 17-20 75.
WESTERN CAROLINA (7-5, 2-0 SoCon)
Harouna Mutombo 10-13 8-12 29; Brandon Giles 8-17 1-1 20; Greg Avery 3-7 2-6 9; Brigham Waginger 2-7 0-0 6; Adrian Gailliard 1-1 4-6 6; Jake Robinson 1-7 2-2 5; Tim Magowan 1-1 0-0 3; Blake Gallagher 1-3 0-2 2; Richie Gordon 0-0 0-0 0; Keaton Cole 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 17-29 80.
Halftime: Western Carolina 38-34. 3-point goals--UNCG 10-24 (Mikko Koivisto 6-12; Landon Clement 2-4; Daniel Oliver 1-3; Kendall Toney 1-4; Montel Smith 0-1), Western Carolina 9-24 (Brandon Giles 3-5; Brigham Waginger 2-6; Harouna Mutombo 1-2; Greg Avery 1-3; Jake Robinson 1-7; Tim Magowan 1-1). Fouled out--UNCG-Deangelo Jackson, Western Carolina-None. Rebounds--UNCG 36 (Ben Stywall 8), Western Carolina 30 (Harouna Mutombo 8). Assists--UNCG 16 (Daniel Oliver 5; Ben Stywall 5), Western Carolina 11 (Brigham Waginger 5). Total fouls--UNCG 23, Western Carolina 20. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Western Carolina-None. A-412
FREE THROWS: Game time was moved to 6 pm last week by Western Carolina fans in hopes of avoiding a loss in crowd for the BCS football title game... The second half featured five ties and eight lead changes... UNCG used its 10th different starting line-up of the season, giving DeAngelo Jackson and Damian Eargle the start in the front court. It was Jackson's first start since opening night and the second of the season – meaning now all 10 active scholarship players have started at least two games this season... Elhanan Bone did not play for the second straight game, sitting on the bench with a boot on his right foot.
- UNCG -