GAME NOTES: Hoping to snap a four-game losing streak, the Western Carolina Catamounts have traveled to Statesboro to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles, in Southern Conference action at Hanner Fieldhouse.
After getting blown out at Davidson, 73-59, on Thursday night, the Catamounts find themselves losers of four straight and six of their last seven overall. Even with that, they are in a three-way tie for third place in the North Division of the SoCon.
With a 91-86 overtime loss to Appalachian State at home on the same night, the Eagles have continued a five-game pattern of alternating wins and losses. At 4-7 in conference, they also sit in third place, but in the South Division.
Georgia Southern owns a 20-13 advantage in the all-time series and took a 72-66 victory over the Catamounts just two weeks ago in one of the Eagles' best games of the season. GSU has lost just once to WCU in the Catamounts' last seven visits to Statesboro.
The Davidson Wildcats got past the Catamounts in their last outing. For WCU, Trey Sumler and Tawaski King each netted 16 points, while Brandon Boggs tallied 12 points but he committed five turnovers. Davidson shot less than 40 percent from the field in the first half, but still took a comfortable 38-22 lead into the break by draining 12-of-14 shots from the foul line and holding WCU to only 30.3 percent shooting from the field in the opening frame. The Wildcats' lead never dipped below double-digits after halftime. Davidson finished 20-of-24 at the free-throw line, while WCU shot a mere 5-of-8 at the stripe.
On the season, Sumler leads the Catamounts with 17.7 ppg, while King (11.3 ppg) and Tom Tankelewicz (10.1 ppg) are also averaging double figures. Sumler is a 36 percent shooter from beyond the arc, as well as an 83 percent free- throw shooter, and he also averages 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per outing. However, he is also turning the ball over nearly four times per game (3.7). For as potent a scoring squad as the Catamounts can be (69.5 ppg), they can be as ineffective at the defensive end (70.5 ppg). They do lead the league in steals (8.0 spg) and are second in turnover margin (+1.17).
Appalachian State defeated the Eagles, 91-86, in an overtime thriller at Hanner Fieldhouse. Erik Ferguson supplied 23 points and eight rebounds for Georgia Southern, while C.J. Reed tallied 19 and Marvin Baynham managed 11 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late. The Eagles led 37-27 at halftime after holding the Mountaineers to just 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. In the second half, ASU caught fire, shooting 57.7 percent and was up by as much as seven points late in the game, but the Eagles battled back. Trailing by one and with a chance to put the Eagles ahead, Baynham went to the line for two free throws, making the first but missing the second to send the contest into overtime. The Mountaineers were able to pull away late in the extra session to grab the victory.
On the season, the Eagles put a solid scoring defense on the court, holding opponents to 65.2 ppg, but they have difficulty scoring enough points to back it up (62.2 ppg). They have struggled from the charity stripe, ranking dead last in the league in free-throw percentage (.650). Ferguson shoots greater than 48 percent from the field for his team-high 14.6 ppg, adding 7.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 1.8 spg for good measure. Reed dishes out nearly four assists per contest to go with his 12.7 ppg. Reed needs 41 more points to reach 2,000 for his career.
The Eagles are the better defensive squad, so look for them to bounce back from their tough overtime loss and grind out a hard-fought victory.
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