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  • Daniel Hooker

Woolbright Leads Four in Double-Figures in WCU’s Season-Opening Victory

Vonterius Woolbright led four players in double figures as all 11 Catamounts that saw action in Tuesday’s season-opener recorded points as Western Carolina cruised past Dalton State 101-65 on Ingles Court in the Ramsey Center. Woolbright, the Southern Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, scored a game-high 19 points while adding eight rebounds and seven assists in a busy stat line to open the year.

Woolbright was joined in double figures by sophomore DJ Campbell who scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, with Bernard Pelote finishing with 14 points including four made 3-pointers, and Tre Jackson posting a dozen, half coming on a pair of made triples.

Of WCU’s 11 players to log minutes on Tuesday night, five made their debut in the Purple & Gold. Four transfers played in their first game for the Catamounts while freshman Keyshawn Brown Jr., made his collegiate debut, draining a right-corner 3-pointer in his first field goal attempt.

Dalton State (2-3) was paced by Matt Compas with 13 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the floor, while Carterius Evans scored nine and Franklin Almonte and Ellis Lee both tallied eight points apiece.

Jackson sparked an 8-0 first-half spurt with a 3-pointer that turned a 2-point game, 14-12, into a 10-point edge for the home squad midway through Tuesday’s first half. A Campbell triple at the 8:44 mark gave the Catamounts their first double-digit lead at 10 points, 25-15. From that point forward, WCU outscored Dalton State 26-to-15 to close the half and carried a 51-30 lead into the halftime locker room.

Combined over the final 12 minutes of the opening half, the Catamounts outscored Dalton State 37-to-18 before hitting the locker room.

Out of intermission, the Roadrunners managed to cut the deficit back to 16 at 55-39 just four minutes into the second half before the Catamounts reclaimed a 20-point lead two buckets later, the second on a Colin Granger deuce after a steal by Pelote to lead 59-39. WCU crested the century mark on a fast-break slam dunk by Campbell to pull in front 101-63. A Brandon Scott free throw and a dunk by Corneilous Williams gave the hosts a game-high 41-point lead twice including the final tally, 106-65.

Tuesday marked the fifth time under third-year head coach Justin Gray that the Catamounts scored over 100 points in a game that includes once in exhibition play.

Western Carolina shot a sizzling 57.8 percent from the floor on Tuesday, opening the game with a 58.8 percent shooting performance in the opening 20 minutes. The Catamounts finished 11-of-24 from behind the 3-point arc, 45.8-percent from range while adding 21 made free throws at a 72.4-percent shooting clip. Defensively, WCU limited the NAIA Roadrunners to 36 percent from the field while outrebounding Dalton State, 47-to-28. The Catamounts also cashed in 15 DSC turnovers into 23 points.

Western Carolina (1-0) opens a two-game road swing on Saturday as five of its next seven games will be played outside of Cullowhee. The Catamounts face Notre Dame on Saturday (Nov. 11) in South Bend, Ind., with a 2 p.m. tip-off, before facing Middle Tennessee on Monday (Nov. 13) at 7:30 p.m. ET in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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