DeLand, Fla. – Western Carolina drained eight 3-pointers in the second half and fended-off Stetson from the free throw line down the stretch, sweeping it's most recent two-game swing through the Sunshine State by defeating the Hatter's 70-64 at the Ollie J. Edmons Center on Sunday afternoon.
The victory for the Catamounts comes just two days removed from historic come-from-behind win at Jacksonville, rallying from down 22 with six minutes to play in scoring the double-overtime tally.
Mason Faulkner led the way by scoring a game-high 28 points, his fifth game this season over the 20-point plateau. Faulkner was 11-for-12 at the free throw line including a pair at the end of the game to help ice the win. Kameron Gibson posted 11 points while Matt Halvorsen scored nine, both shooting 3-for-6 behind the 3-point line. Onno Steger grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
Stetson (3-4), who was playing its third game in as many days, was led by Rob Perry with 15 points. Wheza Panzo tallied 11 points followed by Kenny Aninye with 10.
Western Carolina (4-2) opened the game on a 5-0 run and led 12-2 as the Hatters called a timeout at the 13:28 mark of the first half. Stetson answered with 12 straight points, taking a 14-12 lead on a Panzo layup at the 8:49 mark. WCU answered with four straight points before a Jahlil Rawley triple that knotted the game at 20 with 3:56 to play. Joel Kambiba’s layup with two seconds left sent Stetson into halftime with a 24-23 lead.
WCU hit 3-pointers on five of its first six possessions in the second half for a 38-34 advantage at the 15:43 mark. After Kambiba brought the hosts within two, 41-39, Faulkner sank two free throws and Steger was fouled on a made 3-point attempt with a successful free throw to give WCU a 47-39 lead with 12:42 remaining. The Hatters cut the Catamount lead to three, 49-46, with an Aninye 3-pointer just prior to the midpoint of the frame before WCU scored seven straight points capped by a pair of Faulkner free throws to lead 56-46 with 7:29 left.
WCU’s lead oscillated between seven and 10 points for the next four-plus minutes until a Xavier Cork layup put the Catamounts up a second-half best 11, 66-55, with 3:16 remaining. Stetson used a 9-1 run to pull within three, 67-64, on a layup by Aninye with 47 seconds remaining. Stetson grabbed a defensive rebound on the next Catamount possession but missed the ensuing shot on their end of the court and the Catamounts sealed the win with four free throws in the final eight seconds.
Stetson outshot Western Carolina from the field 43.4 percent (23-for-53) to 40.7 percent (22-for-54). The Catamounts shot 39.3 percent (11-for-28) behind the arc and a season-best 88.2 percent (15-for-17) at the free throw line. The Hatters made four of 16 3-point attempts and shot 70 percent (14-for-20) at the charity stripe.
WCU is back in the Ramsey Center on Wednesday, hosting Bryan College at Noon.
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