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  • Steven Grandy / WCU

Woolbright Leads WCU with Career-Best 24 Points in Loss at Chattanooga

Vonterius Woolbright led four Western Carolina players in double figures with a career-best 24 points, but a second half Chattanooga run along with foul trouble doomed the Catamounts in a 95-76 loss to the Mocs on Wednesday night in McKenzie Arena.

Chattanooga improves to 11-7 overall and 3-2 in Southern Conference while WCU falls to 10-8 and 3-2.

Woolbright’s 24 points surpassed his previous career-best of 21 points against Brevard on Dec. 10. Tyzhaun Claude tallied 19 points followed by Tre Jackson with 14 and Russell Jones Jr with 10.

Reigning SoCon Player of the Week Jake Stephens led Chattanooga with 35 points and 10 rebounds. Of Stephens’ 35 points, 27 came in the first half. Demetrius Davis added 13 points followed by Jamal Johnson and Dalvin White with 12 points.

A Jackson 3-pointer gave the Catamounts their first lead of the night, 5-2, with just over two minutes into the game before WCU pushed its lead to five points, 11-6, thanks to a Claude jumper just over 90 seconds later. The Catamounts led 13-8 at the under-16 media timeout and held a 20-14 advantage on a Colin Granger bucket with 12:39 to play before the half. Chattanooga responded with a 13-4 run over the next five minutes to grab a 27-24 lead at the 7:20 mark, prompting a WCU timeout. Stephens pushed the Moc lead to 10 points, 36-26, with just over four minutes in the frame.

After a pair of free throws by White gave the hosts a 46-36 lead with six seconds left, Jones Jr. hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the Catamounts into halftime down 46-39.

WCU opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt, cutting the Chattanooga advantage to just one, 48-47, with a Woolbright 3-pointer with 17:47 remaining. The Mocs answered, though, with seven straight points to lead 55-47 with 16:12 left. After a Woolbright free throw trimmed the WCU deficit to 56-50, Chattanooga used a 13-1 run over the next five minutes to gain a 69-51 advantage with just over 12 minutes left. WCU twice cut the Chattanooga lead to 13 points but would get no closer the rest of the way.

The Mocs finished 31-for-51 (60.8 percent) from the field, 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) behind the 3-point line, and 24-for-27 (88.9 percent) at the free throw line. Chattanooga also outrebounded WCU 31-28. The Catamounts were 27-for-64 (42.2 percent) from the field, 6-for-22 (27.3 percent) behind the arc, and 16-for-20 (80 percent) at the free throw line.

WCU remains on the road on Saturday, heading to The Citadel for a 1 p.m. tip-off in Charleston, S.C., before returning to the friendly confines of Ingles Court in the Ramsey Center on Wed., Jan. 18 for a “Blackout Game” where WCU will wear its alternate black uniforms. Fans are encouraged to wear their black WCU gear to the game with the first 400 students receiving a free Blackout game T-shirt. At halftime, the ever-popular Zooperstars will perform.

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