Catamounts fall in unforgettable “White Out Night”

As the snow continues to melt in the Cullowhee area, nearly 3,000 fans brought the white into the Ramsey Center to show support for their Catamounts against the Davidson Wildcats.

With a history including a pair of meetings for Southern Conference titles, everyone was expecting an exciting tilt.

Very few, however, were expecting the event to pull at the heartstrings in as many ways as it did.

Davidson (9-11, 5-1 SoCon) started the game with a scoring explosion, showing why they are still a threat to win a third straight SoCon title.

The blazing start had the Wildcats up by 19 at the six minute mark in the first half, and their shooting would not cool off. By halftime, they had hit 9 three-pointers on 12 attempts.

The Catamounts were able to settle in, however, pulling to within six points before halftime.

WCU senior forward Josh Mendenhall draining a first half shot against Davidson. Photo by: Ryan Keys

“I thought when we finally changed our defense to our 1-3-1 zone, we finally got a few stops,” Head Coach Larry Hunter explained. “We got some deflections, we forced them into some turnovers, and we were just trying to cut the lead to back under ten if we could, and we did.”

The fight didn’t leave the Catamounts in the second half.

Despite pulling back to within two points, the Catamounts were never able to grab the lead, suffering a heartbreaking 82-77 loss. It is the first loss of the season in Cullowhee, dropping their home record to 8-1.

“We can’t wait until we are down in the hole and then try to claw our way back out,” said junior guard James Sinclair. “By then it’s too late.”

The game was tight throughout the second half, but the halftime show is what students will be talking about tomorrow in class.

Catamount sophomore Simms Hicks stepped out onto the court with Chancellor David Belcher, Athletic Director Randy Eaton, and WCU’s mascot, Paws.

She presented an American flag which flew over the Camp Leatherneck at the Marine Air Control Group 28 which had been sent by her father, Major Jimmy Hicks, as a token of appreciation to WCU.

Little did she know her father, a 28-year Marine veteran deployed in Afghanistan, stood right beside her underneath the cathead.

The presentation was captured by Catamount Athletics, and can be found here:

The Catamount faithful rose to their feet in unison, cheering louder than they had all night in recognition of the heart-warming reunion.

The presentation was followed by the season debut of Purple Thunder, who put on a show that kept Catamount fans roaring into the second half.

Purple Thunder's big ending, accompanied by WCU's cheerleading squad and dance team. Photo by: Ryan Keys

The icing to the night would have been a win, but the team is still positive.

“We’re a very confident team,” said junior guard James Sinclair. “Eyes still on the prize, and that’s a SoCon championship.”

The Catamounts drop to third in the conference with a 4-2 SoCon record.

They will hit the road to play The Citadel (4-17, 0-6 SoCon) and Elon (10-10, 3-2 SoCon).

Their next home game is Saturday, Feb. 8 against bitter rival Appalachian State at 2 p.m.

The Mountaineers (6-13, 2-4 SoCon) haven’t won in the Ramsey Center in four years.

The Cats will be looking to extend that streak and take another step toward SoCon glory.