CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel basketball team went toe-to-toe with a team on the rise Saturday afternoon, but ultimately came up just short down the stretch as the Bulldogs fell to Western Carolina, 86-82, helped by three Catamounts free throws in the final 25 seconds.
Final Score: Western Carolina 86, The Citadel 82
Records: WCU (10-3, 2-0 SoCon), The Citadel (6-8, 0-3 SoCon)
Location: Charleston, S.C. (McAlister Field House)
Series: WCU leads, 42-36
- The Citadel controlled the opening tip and opened the game with a layup from Tyson Batiste.
- The Bulldogs and Catamounts went back-and-forth for the entire game, including in the opening 2:30 as the game was knotted 9-all.
- The Citadel managed to go on a quick 7-0 spurt to open up some breathing room, spurred by a Kaiden Rice 3-pointer and capped with a layup from Rice, but Western Carolina managed to close the gap to within one, 23-22 after Travion McCray converted a pair of free throws with 11:49 to play in the opening half.
- Onno Steger gave the Cats the lead back with 8:25 to go in the period when he hit a layup off an assist from Carlos Dotson, and with 7:02 left in the half, Kameron Gibson made it a five-point, 38-33 game with a trey.
- The game remained close in the closing minutes of the half with The Citadel building up a four-point 51-47 lead with 30 seconds to go, but Steger converted a pair of free throws to pull the Cats to within two, 51-49 at the intermission.
- Rice opened the second half by extending the lead back out to four with a layup less than a minute in, but nearly a minute and a half in, Western Carolina's Steger made it a one-point, 54-53 Catamount lead with a 3-pointer.
- Batiste gave the Bulldogs the lead back on the next possession, and spurred a 9-2 run for The Citadel to open another six-point lead with 16:35 left in regulation.
- Western Carolina managed to eat into the lead and keep it close, and with 11:22 left, Mason Faulkner gave the Cats the lead back with a layup to set the score at 65-64.
- With 7:48 left in the second half, Batiste hit a free throw to once again tie the game, this time at 70-all, and a little while later, Brady Spence gave the Bulldogs the lead back with a dunk to set the score at 72-70 with 7:45 to play.
- With nearly six minutes left in regulation, Faulkner gave the Catamounts a six-point, 78-72 lead with a free throw, but Eddie Davis, III and Alex Reed pulled the 'Dogs back to within one, 78-77 with 3:46 left to play.
- With 55 seconds remaining, Fletcher Abee hit one of his team-high three 3-pointers to give The Citadel a one-point, 82-81 lead, but the Cats closed the game out with a 5-0 run, including a layup from Dotson and free throws from Dotson and Faulkner, to secure the win.
- The Bulldogs shot a blistering 61.1% (22-of-36) in the first half and ended the game shooting 50.0% (34-of-68) from the field, but connected on just 28.6% (8-of-28) of their 3-point attempts.
- Western Carolina shot 46.8% (29-of-62) from the field for the game, including converting 15 of their 34 3-point attempts (.441).
- The different proved to be free throws as the Catamounts shot 65.0% (13-of-20) from the charity stripe compared to just 40.0% (6-of-15) for the Bulldogs.
- Abee and Batiste led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points each. The 18 points marked a career high for Batiste. Batiste added six assists and five rebounds.
- Rice ended the game with 13 points, while Davis contributed 10.
- Spence recorded his third multi-block game of the season with a pair of blocks against the Catamounts. The freshman added eight points and five boards.
- Steger led all players with 28 points, including a game-high eight triples.
- Dotson ended the game with a double-double off 10 points and 10 rebounds.