Vonterius Woolbright scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half to secure his 20th double-double of the season as Western Carolina held off The Citadel 71-64 on Wednesday night in Southern Conference men’s basketball action on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center.
Trailing 64-63, the Catamounts closed the game on an 8-0 run, holding the Bulldogs scoreless over the final two minutes in completing the regular-season series sweep. Woolbright scored five of WCU’s final eight points, propelling the home squad back in front for good with a second-chance stick back on an offensive rebound with 1:49 remaining in regulation. Tre Jackson then iced the win with a 3-pointer from the top of the key inside the final 20 seconds that pushed the Catamount lead out to two possessions before Woolbright provided the final tally from the free throw line.
Woolbright added 11 rebounds and three assists to his 27 points for his 16th 20-point performance of the year. He remains tied with Akron’s Enrique Freeman for the most double-dips this season. Jackson finished with 18 points with four made 3-pointers while Russell Jones Jr. chipped in 10 points and matched his season high with four assists. DJ Campbell scored seven points and matched his season-high with eight rebounds.
Quentin Millora-Brown paced three Bulldogs in double figures with 16 points, adding nine rebounds and four assists. Elijah Morgan finished with 15 points with three 3-pointers and AJ Smith posted 11 points.
Western Carolina (17-7, 6-5 SoCon) fell behind by seven points after a sluggish offensive start on Wednesday as The Citadel slowly pulled ahead 14-7 five and a half minutes into the opening half. However, over the next eight minutes, the Catamounts embarked on an 18-to-3 run to grab an eight-point cushion, 25-17, with six minutes remaining before the break. The two teams essentially traded buckets the rest of the half with WCU carrying a three-point, 29-26, lead into the halftime locker room.
Shooting percentages for both teams warmed into the 40 percent range over the opening 20 minutes, though the two tough-scoring defensive teams only managed a combined 55 points. The two were just a combined 3-for-18 from 3-point range after 20 minutes.
With the margin hovering between two and five points over the first five minutes of the second half, WCU took the game’s only double-digit lead, 49-39, on the strength of a 9-2 spurt capped by a Jackson triple at the 13:27 mark. The Bulldogs retaliated, though, using a 14-to-4 run to tie the game at 53 with eight minutes to play.
The lead changed hands six times over the next six minutes with neither team mustering more than a three-point edge. Madison Durr scored a driving lay-up to push The Citadel ahead 64-63 right at the two-minute mark before the Catamounts closed with eight unanswered points to score the home victory.
Western Carolina won the battle of the boards on Wednesday, outrebounding the Bulldogs 35-to-29, scoring 10 second-chance points on seven offensive boards. Both teams managed 15-of-27 shooting (55.6%) in the second half, though the Catamounts sank six of their eight 3-pointers after intermission while The Citadel hit just three of its four from range in the second half.
The Catamounts remain home on Saturday (Feb. 10) afternoon to host the Mercer Bears (11-13, 4-7 SoCon) on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center. Mercer downed Furman on Wednesday night at home 78-69. WCU won the first meeting against the Bears 64-52 in Macon, Ga., back on Jan. 13. Saturday's game is Youth Basketball Day, presented by First Citizens Bank, with all youth basketball players and cheerleaders receiving free admission by wearing their jersey or uniform to the box office. XPogo, the world's best extreme pogo entertainment group, will perform at halftime.Saturday is also the Ingles SoCon Game of the Week and will be broadcast live on the Nexstar family of stations (check local listings for clearances and availability) and simulcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required). Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. For tickets to WCU's home games, please visit CatamountSports.com/BuyTickets.