The Western Carolina men’s basketball squad lost in their only four contests during the Christmas break. These games included their first taste of Southern Conference action and a visit to No. 25 Division 1-A powerhouse Iowa State.
Western traveled to Lexington, VA on Saturday to take on the conference-rival Keydets of VMI. Eric Mann, who led the Keydets with 12 points and 11 rebounds, sank a jumper in the final minutes to win the game 70-69.
The Catamounts trailed by a score of 39-28 at the half. They came out of the locker room hot, however, and tied the game at 68 with under two minutes to play. Junior guard Casey Rodgers then sank a free throw to give Western a single point lead before Mann buried the game’s final score.
Junior forward Corey Largent led the Cats on offense with 24 points. Junior guard Willie Freeman had the squad’s only double-double with ten points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Casey Rodgers was the only other Western player to score in double figures, tossing in 14 points.
Last Tuesday the Cats lost to rival Davidson 73-57 in their conference-opener at the Ramsey Center. The Wildcats scored eight of the games first ten points and used a 20-8 run midway through the first half to post a 40-21 advantage at halftime. Despite outscoring Davidson 36-33 in the second half and pulling down four more rebounds, the Catamounts never got closer than 13 and eventually fell by 16.
Largent led Western with 16 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Freshman center Rans Brempong added 13 points and eight boards. Freeman was the only other Catamount to notch double figures with 11 points.
Earlier in the break, Western Carolina ran into the red-hot Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones shot 62 percent from the field on the way to a 91-53 victory, their eleventh in twelve games.
Largent again led the Catamounts with 14 points, making 7 of his 11 field goal attempts. Freeman added eight and Rogers tossed in seven.
The Cats began the break by traveling to Milwaukee to take on Marquette. The Division 1-A Golden Eagles won 78-66, but Western held the game close until the end, trailing by only seven at the half.
Leading four Catamounts in double figures, Largent poured in 21 points to go with eight rebounds. Rogers, meanwhile, scored 16 and Brembong and Freeman tossed in 13 and 12, respectively.