Southern Conference play continues Wednesday night for Western Carolina men’s basketball as the Catamounts return to Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center for the first of consecutive home dates, hosting The Citadel Bulldogs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Wednesday’s 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. Fans can also listen to the game locally on 105.7 FM / 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva (www.wrgc.com). Advance tickets are available online at CatamountSports.com/BuyTickets.
The Catamounts look to rebound from a tough road loss at Wofford last Saturday, falling to the Terriers in overtime, 88-86. Vonterius Woolbright finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season with sophomore DJ Campbell scoring a career-best 23 points as the Hampton, Va., product has posted 20 or more points in two of his last three games. Russell Jones Jr. hit four 3-pointers to finish with 17 points while Tre Jackson scored 10 including two buckets from range in the road loss.
WCU has dropped five of its last six games with the five losses coming by a combined 18 points and three coming in one-possession games.
Entering the week, Woolbright continues to pace the Southern Conference in scoring, ranking fourth nationally at 22.4 points per game. He also leads the league in rebounding with an average of 12.4 per game, second in the NCAA. He leads four double-digit scorers for WCU as Jackson ranks 15th at 13.6 points per game, followed by Campbell (19th, 12.4 ppg) and Jones Jr. (20th, 12.2 ppg).
Jackson and Jones Jr. both lead in 3-point shooting stats in the SoCon. Jackson is averaging a league-best 3.2 made 3-pointers per game while Jones Jr., who is sixth on the same chart at 2.7 treys per game, leads the conference by shooting 42% from range.
Western Carolina won the first meeting against The Citadel to open league play back on Jan. 3. Woolbright – who was named January’s SoCon Player of the Month on Tuesday, his third monthly honor of the year – recorded a double-double-double in the first half on his way to a 22-point, 15-rebound performance and Jackson sank six 3-pointers as WCU made 13 of its 32 attempts from range in the nine-point, 80-71 victory at the McAlister Field House in Charleston, S.C. In the road win, Charles Lampten matched a program single-game record with seven blocked hosts against the Bulldogs, the most by a Catamount since 2005.
In that first meeting, The Citadel played without its leading scorer AJ Smith who currently paces four Cadets in double-digit scoring at 15.8 points per game, seventh in the SoCon. Madison Durr went for 17 with Elijah Morgan (15) and Quentin Millora-Brown (12) rounding out the leading scorers for the Bulldogs.
The Citadel (9-14, 1-9 SoCon) comes to Cullowhee amidst a three-game losing skid and has losses in nine of its last 10 games – each coming in league play. Despite the slide, the Bulldogs have had near misses in both of their last two outings. The Citadel led Furman by as many as 18 points and did not trail until the 7:44 mark of the second half. A last-second 3-pointer by Furman’s JP Pegues forced overtime and the Paladins escaped Charleston with the 82-79 win. Most recently, The Citadel dropped a two-point game at ETSU, 62-50. The ‘Dogs rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to take a one-point lead inside the game’s final minute before the Bucs’ Quimari Peterson sank the game-winner with just six seconds remaining.
Smith’s 15.8 points per game paces four Bulldogs in double figures. Morgan ranks 12th with a 15.1 point per game average, followed by Madison Durr at 11.0 points per game, 24th in the SoCon. Quenton Millora-Brown rounds out the foursome at 10.4 points per game while also boasting a team-best 9.2 rebound per game mark, fourth in the conference.
Two of the SoCon’s top-scoring defenses will be on display Wednesday as WCU ranks tied for first by limiting foes to 69.3 points per outing while The Bulldogs are third at just under 70. Three of WCU’s last four opponents have crested the 80-point mark – before that, only two of the first 19 Catamount foes had scored 80 or more in a game. In contrast, three of the top 3-point shooters in the SoCon will take aim on Ingles Court. WCU’s Jackson leads the league at 3.2 made treys per game, just ahead of The Citadel’s Morgan at 3.0 and WCU’s Jones Jr. in sixth at 2.7. Morgan (41.7%) just trails Jones Jr. (42.0%) in the percentage department with Jackson ranking fifth at 36.3 percent.
WCU’s win at The Citadel back in early January snapped a three-game series slide for the Catamounts and pushed the series record to 46-41 as the two squads meet for the 88th time on Wednesday. The Catamounts have won 26 of the 42 meetings held in Cullowhee (26-16), dropping last year’s matchup by the same score as January’s affair, 80-71, snapping a six-game home win streak in the series.
Following Wednesday’s matchup with the Bulldogs, the Catamounts remain home on Saturday (Feb. 10) afternoon to host the Mercer Bears on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center. Mercer (10-13, 3-7 SoCon) hosts Furman on Wednesday night before coming to Cullowhee. WCU won the first meeting against the Bears 64-52 in Macon, Ga., back on Jan. 13. Saturday is 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.