By Carey Phillips

 

Western Carolina rallied from a 14-point deficit and finished the game on a 12-2 run Saturday to defeat UNC-Asheville 78-77 in non-conference men’s basketball action.

A Ramsey Center crowd of 2,302 and a regional television audience saw Carlos Dotson score 16 points and pull down 11 rebounds for the Catamounts (7-2). Onno Steger added 14 points, followed by Matt Halvorsen and Marcus Thomas both with 12 and Mason Faulkner with 11.

Faulkner made the second of two free throws with four seconds left for the winning point. He hit five foul shots in the game-closing surge. It was WCU’s first lead since 4-3.

Steger also scored five in the spurt, including a three-pointer for a 77-77 tie with 39 seconds to go.

The Bulldogs were one of five from the floor, zero of three from the line and committed two turnovers in the last three minutes.

DeVon Baker led UNC-A with 18 points. He was joined in double figures by Lavar Batts with 17, Tajion Jones with 13 and L.J. -Thorpe with 12.

After trailing by 14 in the first half, Western cut the gap to 53-51 on Xavier Cork’s follow shot with 12:27 on the clock.

The Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 run, including four by Batts, to lead 65-55 at the 9:07 mark.

They matched that margin at 72-62 when Baker scored with 5:47 to play before going cold down the stretch.

Thorpe’s follow shot with 18:38 to go in the first half gave UNC-A a 5-4 lead it would not relinquish until the closing seconds.

Nine consecutive points, including six by Baker, gave the Bulldogs a 24-10 advantage with 9:54 left in the half.

The Cats narrowed the deficit to 30-25 on Faulkner’s free throw at the 2:52 mark.

UNC-A led 40-33 at halftime.

WCU shot 52.8 percent from the floor, including 64 percent in the second half. The Bulldogs made 49.2 percent of their attempts.

The Cats dominated the glass 38-27. Thorpe had five rebounds for UNC-A.

The Bulldogs committed 21 turnovers, and Western had 15.

Completing the WCU scoring were Cork with five and Tyler Harris and Kameron Gibson with four apiece.