By Carey Phillips
Southern Conference struggles for Western Carolina’s men’s basketball team continued last week with losses to Virginia Military and Furman.
The Furman game was moved up from Feb. 15 after a contest with Samford was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Bulldog program.
Greg Parham scored 23 points leading VMI to an 87-61 victory over the Catamounts (7-9, 0-7) Jan. 27 at VMI’s Cameron Hall.
The Keydets placed five players in double figures. Joining Parham were Sean Conway with 14, Jake Stephens with 12, and Kamdyn Curfman and Miles Lewis both with 10.
Mason Faulkner had 15 points for WCU.
VMI shot 61.3 percent from the floor in the second half and pulled away from a 39-37 halftime lead.
Faulkner’s three-pointer produced a 41-41 tie with 19:06 on the clock.
Conway’s trey at the 18:49 mark put the Keydets ahead to stay, 44-41. It started a 19-2 run, during which Conway had eight, for a 60-43 advantage on Curfman’s three-pointer with 14:09 to play.
The biggest lead was 82-56 on D.J. Nussbaum’s layup at the 3:45 mark.
There were nine lead changes in the first half with neither team ahead by more than seven.
Completing the Western scoring were Cory Hightower with nine, Xavier Cork and Tyler McGhie both with eight, Matt Halvorsen with seven, Tyler Harris with six, Sin’Cere McMahon with five, Daniel Ransom with two and Kameron Gibson with one.
Furman used a balanced scoring attack to hold off WCU 75-69 Saturday at the Ramsey Center before a regional television audience.
Noah Gurley led the way with 17 points, followed by Alex Hunter with 14, Clay Mounce and Mike Bothwell with 13 apiece and Jalen Slawson with 12.
Hightower led all scorers with 22 points, and Faulkner added 14 for the Cats.
Hightower opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but the Paladins ran off the next 14 points, including five by Gurley.
Consecutive three-pointers by Halvorsen and Hightower cut the gap to 21-17 with 6:43 on the clock.
The Paladins led 33-28 at halftime.
Bothwell made it 38-28 with a three-pointer at the 18:47 mark.
The Cats scored eight straight to close within 38-36 on McGhie’s trey with 16:44 to go.
A 9-2 run, including six by Slawson, built the lead to 47-38 with 13:29 on the clock.
Western came within 53-50 on Harris’ three-pointer at the 9:19 mark.
Hunter’s trey with 7:40 on the clock helped Furman stay in control with a 59-50 advantage.
Rounding out the WCU scoring were Harris and McGhie both with nine, Langlais with six, Halvorsen with five, and Cork and Ransom with two each.