The Western Carolina men’s basketball team fought hard to come back and defeat the College of Charleston 70-68 in the Ramsey Center on Thursday, Feb. 2. With an early lead shortly taken away by Charleston and 15 minutes left in the first half, the Catamounts would not see the lead again until late in the second half.
The Catamounts were propelled by sophomore Richie Gordon who led the team in scoring with 22 points. Gordon was able to bring the team with two points just before the close of the second half, but team fouls and a three pointer by Charleston’s Donovan Monroe took the deficit to 33-37 at halftime.
A quick steal by Western Carolina’s Brigham Waginger in the opening minutes of the second half though led to an easy basket for Brandon Giles, and the Catamounts were within two points again, 35-37. Following the play, however, the Cougars came back with an answer to expand the lead with a three pointer from Dustin Scott.
The Catamounts found themselves down by as many as seven points, but with most of the second half still left to play, Richie Gordon pushed his team back in the running for a win. Exciting the crowd with two, back-to-back slam dunks, Gordon seemed to have started the ignition for the team to fight hard until the end.
By the 6:15 mark, Waginger scored a three-point shot that tied the game 62-62. The Catamounts had not seen the score tied since early in the first half, and the team was determined to take the lead. Gordon scored again giving the team an advantage of 64-63 with 5:25 left in the game.
After a few more lead changes and another tie of 65-65, the Catamounts were trying to find it in themselves to take the final lead. The opportunity came for the team in the fourth quarter when Richie Gordon pulled down a rebound and was fouled on his way to the basket. Gordon made one of two foul shots, and scored again off a pass from a blocked shot by Adrian Gilliard. Western Carolina took the lead 68-65, but the Cougars quickly answered with a three-pointer by Andrew Goudelcok.
With less than two minutes of play remaining, the Catamounts had an answer of their own as Waginger scrambled to take the ball away from the Cougars which led to Gordon’s winning lay-up to seal the win at 70-68.
The team received outstanding teamwork and double-digit scoring in the win from four starters with Giles and Waginger adding 10 points each and Harouna Mutumbo with 14. The Charleston Cougars were led by Andrew Goudelock’s 18 points and two other players in double figures.
“We came looking for a good start and a good lead, but it didn’t happen,” said Gordon, who alone scored seven of the last eight points for the Catamounts. “At halftime, we took coach’s advice to comeback hard and crash the boards.”