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  • Daniel Hooker

Catamounts Hold Off ETSU to Sweep Season Series

Tyler Harris scored a season-high 14 points to lead four Catamounts in double figures as Western Carolina withstood a late ETSU rally in a 68-66 Southern Conference victory on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center on Wednesday.

With the win, the Catamounts complete the season sweep of ETSU for the first time since the 1984-85 season and have now won three straight games over the Bucs. WCU improves to 15-13 overall and 8-7 in SoCon play to remain in fourth place in the standings with three games to play, while ETSU drops to 10-18 and 6-9.

Harris finished in double figures for the fifth time this season, finishing 4-for-5 from the field. Vonterius Woolbright added 12 points with eight assists and six rebounds. Reigning SoCon Player of the Week Tre Jackson tallied 11 points while Colin Granger scored a career-high 10 points and grabbed career-best six rebounds in the winning effort.

Jordan King led three ETSU players in double figures with 23 points. Jalen Haynes posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Deanthony Tipler tallied 12 points.

WCU began the game with a 6-2 spurt before the Bucs knotted the contest at six with a pair of King free throws at the 14:26 mark. A Harris 3-pointer gave the hosts a 17-12 lead just before the midpoint of the period and the Catamounts enjoyed a 25-18 advantage following a Granger layup with 6:10 remaining before the half. The Catamounts led 30-23 with 3:10 showing on the game clock following a Woolbright layup, but the Bucs trimmed the WCU halftime advantage to two, 32-30, with a bucket in the final 30 seconds.

King opened the second half scoring to even the game at 32 and the Bucs grabbed a 39-36 lead at the 15:51 mark following a Haynes layup. With ETSU holding a 46-43 advantage after a King 3-pointer at the 12:42 mark, WCU used a 9-0 run to regain a 52-46 lead midway through the final stanza. Russell Jones Jr.’s layup at the eight-minute mark put WCU ahead by a game-high 12 points, 60-48, and the Catamount lead remained between four and seven points for the next six minutes.

Following a pair of Jackson free throws which put WCU ahead 68-61 with 2:17 left, Tipler trimmed the WCU lead to 68-64 as he drained a 3-pointer on the next ETSU possession. Both teams went cold for the next minute before Haynes converted a layup with 49 seconds left to cut the Catamount lead to just two. On the ensuing WCU possession, the Catamounts missed a shot and Haynes grabbed the defensive rebound with 15 seconds left. After receiving a pass from under the basket, Jamarius Hairston attempted what would have been a game-winning 3-pointer, but it hit off the back of the rim as time expired.

The Catamounts held a 31-28 advantage in rebounds. For the game, WCU finished 23-for-44 (52.3 percent) from the field, 7-for-14 (50 percent) behind the 3-point line, and 15-for-17 (88.2 percent) at the free throw line. ETSU was 23-for-58 (39.7 percent) from the field, 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) on 3-point attempts, and 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) at the free throw line. ETSU forced 16 WCU turnovers and converted them into 22 points.

WCU hits the road on Saturday, traveling to Mercer for a 2 p.m. tip-off.

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