By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina rallied from a 22-point deficit with less than six minutes left in regulation to defeat Jacksonville 96-94 in double overtime in non-conference men’s basketball action last Thursday.
It was the biggest comeback by a team with less than six minutes to go in NCAA history.
A crowd of 764 at Swisher Gymnasium saw reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week Mason Faulkner pour in 28 points. Marcus Thomas came off the bench to hit nine of 12 field goals and score 21. Also in double figures were Matt Halvorsen with 17 and Carlos Dotson with 13.
Destin Barnes paced the Dolphins with 20 points. He received scoring support from Aamahne Santos with 16, David Bell with 14, Kevin Norman with 13 and Deanthony McCallum with 11.
Santos’ three-pointer a minute into the second OT gave Jacksonville a 91-88 lead.
The Catamounts went up 92-91 on Faulkner’s layup at the 2:41 mark. His layup with 1:44 on the clock put WCU ahead to stay, 94-92.
Santos’ basket cut the gap to 95-94 with 13 seconds left.
Faulkner made one of two foul shots with 10 seconds to play before Norman missed a potential game-winning three-pointer.
The Dolphins led 83-78 in the first OT after Mo Arnold’s basket with 3:27 on the clock.
Western fought back to take its first lead of the game, 84-83, on Faulkner’s three-pointer at the 2:06 mark.
Two foul shots by Barnes tied it 86-86 with 1:31 to play, and there was no more scoring in the period.
Jacksonville used a 10-2 run, including five by Santos, for a 67-45 lead with 6:16 left in regulation.
WCU chopped the deficit in half but still trailed 72-61 after two Santos foul shots with 1:47 on the clock.
The Dolphins committed four turnovers and missed four free throws the rest of the way opening the door for the Cats to rally. Matt Halvorsen’s three-pointer cut the gap to 76-74 with 27 seconds left.
After trailing the entire game, Carlos Dotson’s basket with 10 seconds remaining pulled Western into a 76-76 tie.
Jacksonville dominated the first half. Consecutive three-pointers by Norman made it 23-8 at the 11:34 mark.
The margin reached 31-14 on Santos’ three-pointer with nine minutes to play, and it was 42-27 at halftime.
WCU shot 45.7 percent from the floor, and the Dolphins made 43.9 percent of their attempts.
Dotson’s nine rebounds helped the Cats to a 47-41 advantage on the boards. Bell led all rebounders with 12.
Jacksonville committed 17 turnovers, and Western had 12.
Completing the WCU scoring were Xavier Cork with seven and Onno Steger and Kameron Gibson both with five.