For the second time this season, the Catamounts defeated the UNCG Spartans on the hardwood. The win helped keep the Catamounts in pace for first place in the northern division of the SoCon. The Catamounts were in control throughout the game with the help of strong performances from Harouna Mutombo, who led the Catamounts in scoring.
Western was strong from buzzer to buzzer and never trailed the entire way. At the end of the first half, the Spartans trailed by nineteen points, 39-20. Throughout the game, the Spartans were smothered by the Catamounts defense. After halftime, the Catamounts continued their dominance and stretched their lead to a game high 23 points with 13:53 left in the game. The Catamounts were able to hold off the Spartans and win by 13 points, 69-56. The Spartans were held to thirty percent shooting, a season low, while the Spartans also struggled at the free throw line, only making 18 of 31 free throw attempts.
The Catamounts were led by four players in double figure scoring, including Brandon Giles, Richie Gordon, Brigham Waginger and the leading scorer, Mutombo. Giles scored 13 points and 6 rebounds. Waginger had a big game outside of the scoring column, leading the team in rebounds with 8 and led the team in steals and assists with 6 apiece, all in addition to his 10 point performance. Gordon added 10 points of his own to help the Catamounts earn the victory. In the game, Jake Robinson pulled himself closer to becoming the Catamounts all time leading three point shooter. Robinson passed Kyle Greathouse, who played at Western from 2003-2007, by making two three point shots against the Spartans. The two three point baskets were Robinson’s only points in the game.
The only Spartan to score in double figures was Damian Eargle who scored 17 points and had 8 rebounds. The Spartans next leading scorer had only 7 points in the game.
With the win, the Catamounts prevented themselves from falling three games back of the Chattanooga Mocs, who are in first place in the Northern Division. The Catamounts are two games out of first place with two games remaining, and could catch the Mocs for first place if they win the final two games of the season against Samford and Chattanooga. Both of the Catamounts remaining games are in Cullowhee at the Ramsey Center.
The SoCon tournament, which has an NCAA tournament bid at stake for the winner, will be held in Chattanooga Tennessee.
The Catamounts could earn themselves a bid to the “Big Dance” if they could win; but also they need a strong performance to give the team a confidence boost going into the off-season.