By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit to take the lead, but Samford held on for an 82-78 Southern Conference men’s basketball victory Jan. 18 at Samford’s Hanna Center.
Christian Guess led the Bulldogs with 19 points. Jacob Tryon added 17, followed by A.J. Staton-McCray and Logan Dye with 11 and Richardson Maitre with 10.
Mason Faulkner paced the Catamounts with 24 points. He received scoring support from Xavier Cork with 18, Cory Hightower with 15 and Matt Halvorsen with 13.
Hightower was the game’s top rebounder with 11.
WCU shot just 30.4 percent from the floor in the first half but hit a sizzling 62.1 percent in the second half.
Nine unanswered points, including five by Tryon and four by Guess, helped Samford open a 36-19 lead with 5:35 to play in the first half.
The Bulldogs ran off the half’s final nine points, including six by Tryon, for a 45-25 margin.
The Cats got back in contention with a 16-2 spurt, including six by Cork, cutting the gap to 56-52 with 10:38 on the clock.
They took the lead at 64-63 on Faulkner’s three-pointer at the 5:48 mark.
Samford went ahead for good at 67-66 on Dye’s layup with 4:50 remaining.
Western was as close as 78-77 after Faulkner’s layup with 29 seconds to play.
Richardson was four of four from the line in the final 14 seconds to clinch the win.
Completing the WCU scoring were Kameron Gibson with six and Ahmir Langlais with two.