Catamounts win home opener against Methodist 87-76

Playing their fourth game in six nights, the Catamount men’s basketball team overcame a tough Methodist team and pulled away with the 87-76 victory in the Ramsey Center in front of a crowd of 1,731.Tired legs and inexperience among the younger players were part of the struggles that the young Cats faced during the game. “Our legs were very tired out there. We tried to play a lot of people, but some of our younger players are still learning and I thought we were a step slow in a lot of things we were doing,” said head coach Larry Hunter. The sluggishness of the Catamounts allowed the Monarchs to cut a 20-point second half deficit to single digits in the closing moments of the game. With 1:25 remaining, the Monarchs were able to trim the deficit to nine (85-76), but that would be as close as they could get as sophomore Nick Aldridge nailed the final bucket of the game to move the lead back to 11 for the Catamounts.For the final minute, both teams struggled offensively, as neither team scored any more points for the remainder of the game. Aldridge blames the Catamounts’ sloppy play on the team’s tiredness following the Peggy Cronin Classic earlier in the week. “Maybe coming off a big tournament, we overlooked them a little bit. But give them credit. They did what they did well,” said the native of South Webster, Ohio. Aldridge finished with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in the contest. Freshman Michael Porrini recorded his first career double-double in his young career for Western as he finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Also contributing for WCU with double-digits was sophomore Brandon Giles, who finished with 13 points. Despite winning against Methodist, Hunter knows that it was not an easy feat for his WCU team and he was very complimentary of his team’s opponent following the game. “Give Methodist credit, they are a very dangerous type team to be playing when you are like that. I thought they were very athletic and very explosive and came in here with a great mindset,” said Hunter.The Catamounts, who rebounded from an early two-game losing streak to Cincinnati and Belmont, know that there are some things they need to improve on as the season moves along. “At this early point in the season, we are a little farther along as a team with our defense and rebounding than we are with some of our offensive execution,” said Hunter. Coming off of the Peggy Cronin Classic and their home opener against Methodist, the Catamounts will get a much needed six days off before coming back to the Ramsey Center to play the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs on November 20. With some early experience playing big name schools like Cincy, the Catamounts are optimistic that they can hang in there with any team, which could help give them an edge when Southern Conference play begins. “We are excited about our season and I think we are capable of playing with anyone on our schedule. Two key areas we need to shore up on as the season moves along are the turnovers and free throw shooting,” said Hunter.