DJ Campbell buried a game-tying 3-pointer just in front of the Catamount bench in the closing seconds at Furman on Saturday afternoon, but the Paladins had the answer on the ensuing possession. JP Pegues connected on a contested triple from the top of the key leaving less than a second showing on the game clock as the Furman clipped Western Carolina 65-62 in Southern Conference action at a jam-packed Timmons Arena.
Vonterius Woolbright collected his NCAA-leading 16th double-double – and his 11th in a row – finishing with a game-high 27 points, adding 16 rebounds and six assists to lead the Catamounts. Campbell finished with 11 points including his late 3-pointer as WCU put two in double figures.
Tre Jackson chipped in eight points, shooting just 2-of-10 from long-range, while Corneilous Williams finished with six points including two on a thunderous slam dunk. Williams and Charles Lampten both finished with three blocked shots apiece as the Catamounts matched a season-best with eight blocks.
JP Pegues led the Paladins with 17 points including three 3-pointers and Alex Williams posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Foster, playing just his second game back from injury, finished with 14 points and one board shy of the double-dip.
Western Carolina (15-4, 4-2 SoCon) jumped out to an early five-point lead before Furman scored the next five points to even the scoreboard at the first media timeout. The Catamounts managed to pull in front by four points three times before the midpoint of the opening frame including a 17-13 edge. Furman then used a 10-0 run to erase the deficit and grab a six-point lead with seven minutes remaining before halftime.
The Paladins stretched their first-half advantage to a half-high 11 points 93 seconds before intermission and carried a 10-point, 36-26, lead into the break.
WCU exploded out of the halftime locker room, riding a 13-to-2 run to erase the 10-point deficit and retake the lead, 39-38, just five minutes into the second stanza. Woolbright scored eight of WCU’s points in the run with Jackson scoring the other five. The Catamounts managed to take a four-point lead at the 11:08 mark thanks to a Pelote triple and Williams dunk and pulled ahead by five on a Woolbright layup with 7:32 showing on the game clock.
Marcus Foster hit a 3-pointer at the 2:23 mark to push the Paladins back in front with Pegues converting consecutive layups for a three-point Paladin lead with 39 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession with the clock winding down, Campbell canned a 3-pointer from the right wing to knot the game at 62 with just 17 seconds to play. Pegues then hit the game-winning 3-pointer with Pelote providing pressure at the top of the key with just 0.8 seconds remaining. WCU’s last-ditch full-court pass was intercepted as the Catamounts dropped their second straight.
WCU shot 40% from the field in the loss, connecting on just six of its 22 3-point field goal attempts, while Furman managed to shoot 41.3% for the game, finishing 7-of-19 from range. Rebounds were even at 40 apiece, as were points in the paint at 36 aside.
The road-warrior Catamounts now welcome three consecutive SoCon foes to Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center beginning with UNCG on Wednesday, Jan. 24. The matchup against the in-state league foe has been dubbed the “White Out Ramsey” game where fans are encouraged to wear their white Catamount gear to the game. WCU remains at home on Sat., Jan. 27, to host VMI in the backend of a hoops doubleheader, with Chattanooga calling on Jan. 31.
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