Riding a three-game winning streak that includes its second victory over a Power Five Conference opponent with Tuesday night’s win at Vanderbilt, Western Carolina men’s basketball returns to the friendly confines of Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center on Thursday morning for a special pre-holiday 11:30 a.m. tip, hosting nonconference foe Brescia College.
Thursday’s men’s basketball game has been deemed “Education Day,” presented by United Community Bank, as area school-age children are expected to be in attendance. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network and live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.
Both reserved and general admission tickets are available for the game by calling (828) 227-2401 or visiting CatamountSports.com.
Western Carolina (9-2) claimed its third-straight seasonal victory with Tuesday’s one-point tally over SEC-foe Vanderbilt, representing just the third win against the perennial Power Five Conference all-time. It was WCU’s first victory over an SEC opponent since winning over Arkansas back in 2003-04 – and coupled with the 10-point victory over ACC-foe Notre Dame back in November, it is the first time in program history that the Catamounts have wins over both an ACC and SEC foe in the same season.
Senior guard Vonterius Woolbright scored four of his game-high 22 points inside the final 60 seconds including the eventual game-winning scoop to the hoop with 1.5 remaining in regulation to lift the Catamounts to the road win. Woolbright finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds and was joined in double figures by Russell Jones Jr. with 16 and DJ Campbell with a dozen as just five Catamounts scored.
Woolbright heads into the final game before the holiday break continuing to lead the Southern Conference in both scoring (21.5 ppg) and rebounding (11.8 rpg), while sitting third in assists with 5.0 helpers per game. The Albany, Ga., product is also tied for the most double-doubles in the NCAA to date with eight, matching Akron’s Enrique Freeman. Woolbright sits 12th nationally in scoring and fourth in rebounding which includes the second-most defensive boards per game at 10.09.
Woolbright – a three-time SoCon Player of the Week and the league’s top performer in November – has scored in double figures in all 11 games during WCU’s 9-2 start and leads four players in double figures. Campbell ranks 19th in the SoCon at 11.9 points per game, with Jones Jr. (11.4 ppg, 25th) and senior guard Tre Jackson just behind at 11.3 points per game. Jackson and Jones Jr. rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the SoCon in 3-pointers made per game with the latter ranked second by connecting at a 42.4% pace from beyond the arc.
A member of the NAIA and the River States Conference, Brescia enters Thursday having played 10 games in total on the year but only counts six sitting with an overall 3-3 record. The Bearcats have played four NCAA Division I opponents – visiting Murray State, Jacksonville State, UT-Martin, and Kennesaw State – with WCU representing the fifth, each registered as an exhibition game for the non-DI squad. The Bearcats have surrendered an average of 90.5 points per game in the four previous exhibitions with an average margin of victory for the opposition at 30.25 points per game.
Among the six games Brescia has counted towards its seasonal record, three players are averaging double-digit scoring led by junior forward Ksuan Casey at 24.7 points per game. Casey, the River States Conference Player of the Week on Nov. 21, is flanked by classmate Taeron Hogg at 24.5 points per contest with Camden Pfeister averaging 15.8 points per game. Casey posted double-digit games against both Murray State (17 pts) and UT-Martin (16 pts), while Hogg has a trio of double-figure scoring efforts with 14 against both the Racers and Skyhawks and 15 most recently at Kennesaw State. Pfeister posted 10 points consecutively against Jacksonville State and UT-Martin.
Located in Owensboro, Ky., Brescia was picked to finish 10th in the River State Conference’s preseason poll and sixth out of the seven teams in the RSC Men’s Basketball West Division.
Western Carolina and Brescia have met just once before on the men’s basketball hardwood, a 112-45 victory for the Catamounts in Cullowhee last November. Bernard Pelote led seven Catamounts in double figures with a career-high 18 points including six made 3-pointers. Campbell finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds with Russell Jones Jr. scoring 14 among the returning leaders. Woolbright also carded a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards in the winning effort.
Things to Know Before You Go – Education Day (Thurs., Dec. 21):
Seating for the general public on Education Day is designated opposite the team benches in the main arena … the seating behind both team benches will be reserved for the schools attending;
General public reserved seating is located in Sections 101-105 ... Fans must have a reserved ticket to sit in these sections ... General admission seating is located in Sections 100, 106, 107, and 125;
Doors to the Ramsey Center open at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday;
Catamount Dining will operate two concession stands on the main concourse during Thursday’s Education Day game ... Please note that there will be no alcohol sales at the game;
Santa Claus will be making a special appearance at halftime on Thursday and will be providing gifts for 30 lucky kids in attendance, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Heritage in the third annual “Pack the Presents” promotion.
Following Thursday’s home game, the Catamounts remain at home for their final game of the 2023 calendar year, hosting King University on Saturday, Dec. 30, in the backend of a Catamount hoops doubleheader. The Catamount women’s team hosts Southern Wesleyan at 1 p.m. with the men to follow at 3 p.m. with both games to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required), as well as live audio from the Catamount Sports Network and live stats available at CatamountSports.com.