This was only the second meeting between these teams with the first matchup going to WCU on Dec. 5, 2007. WCU assistant coach Brigham Waginger and Eagles’ assistant coach Eric Wilson played alongside each other for that Catamount team.
This game was a back-and-forth contest, especially in the second half, with the lead changing hands six times.
NC Central’s starting guards Patrick Cole and Dajuan Graf posted up a chunk of the team’s points. Patrick Cole finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists while shooting 7 of 16 from the field in 34 minutes of action. Dajuan Graf garnered a modest 14 points and three rebounds, as well as two steals.
Although the Catamounts struggled to put the ball in the net for a majority of the game, particularly from three, there were several key contributors in this grind-it-out affair.
Catamount guard Deriece Parks, although shooting a terrible 4 of 14 from the field, mustered 12 points. Guards Devin Peterson and Haboubacar Mutombo chimed in with 10 points apiece, mostly coming in the second half. Even though he was in foul trouble, WCU’s forward Marc Gosselin led the team in scoring by dropping 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting.
The best field goal percentage for the Catamounts came from an unlikely source: freshmen forward Yalim Olcay. Olcay rounded out the night with eight points and five rebounds while shooting 4 of 7 from the field.
Nevertheless, the Eagles’ bench production was the thing that stole the show. Forwards Pablo Rivas and Kyle Benton combined for a perfect 11 of 11 shooting obtaining NC Central’s 29 bench points. Pablo Rivas had a lights out game finishing with 18 points on a 7 of 7 output, including two 3-pointers, nine rebounds and two blocks in nearly 30 minutes of action.
During a free throw attempt by Catamount guard Elijah Pughsley with 23 seconds left in the game, a controversial situation arose when WCU’s guard Devin Peterson hit the leg of Eagles’ forward Kyle Benton on the box-out. Kyle Benton was down for quite some time and he got up hobbling.
Upon the injury to Kyle Benton, NC Central’s coach LeVelle Moton was livid and yelling expletives at the Catamount bench. There were Eagles’ fans in the crowd shouting, “that was intentional!” This resulted in Devin Peterson obtaining his fifth and final personal foul.
The Catamounts clawed their way back from trailing early, even leading at one point, but ended up falling to the Eagles 67-59.
In the post-game interview, Catamount coach Larry Hunter addressed his feelings on the game. “We had some
breakdowns. They took some things away from us,” said Hunter. “We had some really good looks on the perimeter. Had we made a couple those, we might’ve got ourselves a five or six point lead.”
The Catamounts now face a tough road ahead of them as they are set to play seven straight away games starting with Marshall on Saturday.