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  • Steven Grandy / WCU

Claude Lifts Catamounts Past Tennessee Tech

Redshirt junior Tyzhaun Claude led three Western Carolina players in double figures with a career-high 21 points in a 75-65 win at Tennessee Tech on Saturday afternoon inside the Hooper Eblen Center.

The Catamounts even their seasonal record at 6-6, winning their fifth straight game over Tennessee Tech and their fourth in as many seasons. Tennessee Tech drops to 3-9.

Claude surpassed his previous career-best of 19 points coming at McNeese State. The Goldsboro, N.C., native went 5-for-11 from the field along with an 11-for-14 mark at the free throw line. Claude also grabbed six rebounds. Vonterius Woolbright recorded his second double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Tre Jackson also finished in double figures with 18 points.

Jayvis Harvey paced Tennessee Tech with 19 points followed by Jaylen Sebree with 16 points and Grant Strong with 10 points. Sebree and Nolan Causwell snagged six rebounds.

Jackson opened the scoring with a 3-pointer 19 seconds into the game, but the Golden Eagles led 7-5 at the under-16 media timeout. A Daniel Ramsey dunk put the hosts ahead 14-9 with just under 12 minutes remaining and Tennessee Tech led 18-14 at the midpoint of the half.

After Grant Slatten made the first of two free throw attempts for a 19-16 Golden Eagle lead with 8:19 to go, the Catamounts used a 5-0 spurt to grab a 21-19 lead following a Jackson 3-pointer with 6:34 to play before intermission. Tied at 25 with 4:30 remaining, Woolbright sank the first of three straight 3-pointers as WCU grabbed a 34-25 lead with just over three minutes left as the nine-point lead was the largest lead by either team in the frame. DJ Campbell’s 3-pointer with 64 seconds remaining sent the Catamounts into halftime with a 37-30 advantage.

With the Catamounts leading 38-34 after a Claude free throw, the Golden Eagles used a 7-1 run capped by a Sebree jumper to lead 41-39 with 14:50 remaining in regulation. After Strong completed a three-point play for a 48-44 Golden Eagle advantage with 11:05 left, the Catamounts responded with a 7-0 run capped by a Jackson 3-pointer for a 51-48 lead with just over eight minutes remaining. Tennessee Tech fought back, tying the game at 51 with a Harvey 3-pointer on its next possession.

A pair of Woolbright free throws put WCU back on top, 53-51, with 7:22 left. Clinging to a 57-56 lead at the 6:21 mark, the Catamounts stretched their lead to 64-58 at the final media timeout with 3:15 remaining. A Tyler Harris 3-pointer put the Catamounts ahead 69-60 with 1:25 to play before Woolbright’s dunk with 53 seconds to go put the visitors ahead 71-60 for the largest lead of the game by either team. Tennessee Tech pulled within seven points with 38 seconds left but WCU salted the win away with free throws down the stretch.

Both teams shot 44 percent from the field, with WCU making 24 of 55 attempts and Tennessee Tech converting 23 of 52. The Catamounts finished 10-for-26 (38 percent) behind the 3-point line and remain undefeated when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game. WCU was also 17-for-22 (77 percent) at the free throw line. The Golden Eagles were 8-for-17 (79 percent) behind the arc and 11-for-14 at the charity stripe. WCU outrebounded Tennessee Tech 35-29.

The Catamounts close out the nonconference portion of their schedule on Tuesday afternoon, hosting Toccoa Falls at 2 p.m. on Ingles Court in the Ramsey Center in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) and on the Catamount Sports Network.

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