Catamounts Lose Heartbreaker to UTC and Fall At UNC-G

1.9 seconds left on the clock, the Moccasins have the ball with the score tied at 72. Casey Long of UT-C pulls up from the top of they key and fires a three-point shot. The ball swooshes in the net and the Catamount faithful go home with a sour taste in their mouth. That was the story on February 12 after the Catamounts lost on a last-second shot to the Mocs of Chattanooga 75-72. Despite a career best seven of seven three-point baskets from freshman Jake Robinson, the Catamounts effort fell just short against the Mocs. Robinson finished with a career high of 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting from downtown. Despite having a career high, Robinson missed the most important basket of the contest as his last second desperation mid-court heave bounced off the glass and fell out, capping off the Chattanooga win. Helping Robinson out in double figures was SoCon Freshman of the Year candidate Nick Aldridge. Aldridge finished with 12 points and five boards. He shot a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, including the game-tying free-throws which made the score even at 72. Rounding out the double-digit tree for WCU was junior Antonio Russell who also finished with 12 points and five boards. Chattanooga held a 14 point lead (63-49) with less than eight minutes remaining in the contest. Despite being down, the Cats proved that they were never out of it. As they have done all season long, the Cats once again climbed back in the contest embarking on a 23-to-9 run making the score even at 72 with 12 seconds left to be played.Despite heavy defensive pressure from Western’s defense, Chattanooga’s Casey Long was able to get free and nailed the 3-point bucket that ended up winning the game for the Mocs. UT-Chattanooga shot a red hot 52% on 27-of-52 from the field, which also included a 12-of-22 (54.5%) effort from three point range. Other than the fact that they were out-shot, the Catamounts out-rebounded the Mocs 43-31 including junior Arnold Gore’s team high and career high of nine. Six of his rebounds came on the offensive glass. 20 of Western’s 43 rebounds were offensive boards, and that was just two away from a season high for the team. On Valentine’s Day, the Cats looked to avenge the bitter loss that they suffered from two days earlier with a match-up against the UNC-Greensboro Spartans. However, it would be the same story as the Cats lost once again to the Spartans on the road. A shooting slump and a scoreless drought were the two issues in the Cats 79-68 loss. The win for UNC-G guarantees them at least a second place finish in the North Division of the Southern Conference, while the Catamounts fell to third in the North Division and fell back into sixth place in the overall standings. Leading the way for Western was freshman Nick Aldridge who recorded his fourth double-double campaign of the season. He finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds. Rounding the trio in double digits was junior Arnold Gore who finished with 14 and freshman Brandon Giles who recorded 11. The Spartans were able to get it done from the charity stripe shooting 32-of-43 (74%) from the line. Western shot 52% from the free-throw line shooting 13-of-25. The hot 3-point shooting from the Catamounts that was prevalent in the last few games was non-existent in this contest. The Cats shot an ice cold 3-of-21 from downtown for a blistering 14.3%. The story of the game though was the performance of UNC-G’s bench. The bench of the Spartans managed to outscore the Catamount bench 37-8. UNC-G was led by four players with double digits. Ricky Hickman led the way with 19 points, followed by 13 from Kevin Oleksiak and Mikko Koivisto. Koivisto along with Ben Stywall helped lead the Spartan bench with their performances on the floor. Despite the cold shooting from downtown and from the free-throw line, the Catamounts out-rebounded their opponents for the third consecutive games winning the battle 42-35. After their heartbreaking loss to the Mocs and a midweek road loss to the Spartans, the Catamounts (10&16, 7&8) look to get back to .500 in the Southern Conference after their next game against the SoCon’s best team, the Davidson Wildcats. The Cats will be looking to avenge a 20 point loss suffered at the hand of the Wildcats earlier this season. Following the Davidson game will be the final two games of the season for the Cats as they battle Appalachian State and Elon. If they manage to win these next three games, the Cats will most likely gain a first-round bye in the Southern Conference Tournament which could pay dividends for them as the tournament rolls on.