WCU rally falls short in Socon title game rematch

Junior Brandon Boggs attacks the basket for two of his team high 22 points. (Photo By Mark Haskett)

Senior Nik Cochran churned out a huge game scoring 32 points, 26 in the second half, to help Davidson turned back a furious rally from Western Carolina 79-74 in a rematch of the 2012 SoCon Championship Game in the Ramsey Center on Thursday.

Trailing 62-48 the Catamounts used a 13-2 run, capped by junior forward Tawaski King’s layup, to whittle the Wildcats lead down to 64-61. However, three free throws from Cochran and Jake Cohen and a De’mon Brooks lay-up put Davidson up by eight with 6:02 remaining in the contest.

That lead was short-lived as the Catamounts clawed back to within one on an emphatic King dunk that sent the 4,178 white out crowd in delirium. That would be as close as WCU would get the rest of the way as, fittingly, Cochran hit another huge 3-pointer to pull ahead by four. The Wildcats iced the game from the free-throw line.

Cochran, who only managed six points in the opening half, came out hot in the second half scoring 14 of the Wildcats first 15 points and scoring all but nine of his team’s 35 second half points.

“Nik Cochren was absolutely terrific tonight,” said Western Carolina men’s basketball coach Larry Hunter. “He hit big shot after big shot. Of course, there was none bigger there when we got it to one…and we needed a stop and he banged a big three for them.”

After trading baskets to start the first half, Davidson put together a 16-2 run to take an early 23-8 lead which the Wildcats would extend to 30-13 on a Tyler Kalinoski jumper with 7:55 remaining in the half.

“I think the big key to the ballgame was the start,” said Coach Hunter. “We got ourselves down early; give them credit they got off to a good start. They were hitting a lot shots early and we were missing a lot of shots early.”

The Catamounts wouldn’t be denied though as they salted away the lead to nine points during a 17-9 run capped by a Boggs 3-pointer from right of the key.

The Wildcats answered with consecutive baskets from Czerapowicz and Cochran to take a 44-31 lead at the break.

Boggs and Sumler led Western Carolina in scoring, each finished with 22 points apiece. King rounded out the double figure scorers for the Catamounts with 12 points and nine rebounds.

The silver lining for the Catamounts was Boggs, who had recently struggled, but seems to have found his shooting stoke as of late scoring 19 against Chattanooga and 13 against Samford.

“I’m really pleased [with Boggs],” said Coach Hunter. “Two ballgames in a row Brandon has really turned himself around. He’s playing much, much better than he was earlier.

“He seems to be more comfortable on the court; he’s competing better and making better decisions.”

Previously, Boggs had only broken double figures once in the last five games.

“I’m trying to focus more, I’ve been stressing too much early,” said Boggs. “With Harouna Mutombo and Keaton Cole gone I feel that I have to do so much. I’ve really have been focusing more.”

Western Carolina’s top three point threat, Tom Tankelewicz who scored 21 points last week at Chattanooga, was sidelined early when he picked up his third foul just seven minutes into the contest. He finished with five points.

Cochran led the Wildcats with 32 points, Cohen finished with 15 points and Kalinoski rounded out double figure scorers with 10. Brooks finished with nine points respectively.