By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s men’s basketball team defeated Virginia Military 74-72 at home Feb. 10 and lost 88-70 Saturday at Furman in Southern Conference action.
Xavier Cork scored 23 points for the Catamounts (9-12, 2-10) at the Ramsey Center in a 74-72 victory over Virginia Military. Mason Faulkner followed with 19, and Cory Hightower had 13.
Kamdyn Curfman and Jake Stephens led the Keydets with 17 apiece. Also in double figures were Greg Parham with 12, Trey Bonham with 11 and Sean Conway with 10.
There were seven lead changes and two ties in the second half.
VMI’s biggest lead of the period was 55-50 on Myles Lewis’ layup at the 8:46 mark.
Cork had five in a 9-2 run for a 59-57 edge with 6:23 on the clock.
Hightower’s fast break layup put the Cats up 64-59 with 4:30 to play.
The Keydets drew even at 66-66 on Parham’s follow shot with 1:32 remaining.
Cork gave Western the lead for good, 68-66, with 1:20 on the clock.
Faulkner hit a pair of baskets and two foul shots in the final minute allowing WCU to withstand a pair of three-pointers by the Keydets.
After falling behind 7-0, the Cats reeled off 15 straight points, including four by Cork, to lead 15-7 on Josh Massey’s three-pointer at the 11:13 mark.
Curfman’s three-pointer with 1:11 to play gave VMI a 28-27 halftime lead.
Completing the WCU scoring were Massey with five, Sin’Cere McMahon with four, Matt Halvorsen and Kameron Gibson with three apiece, and Tyler Harris and Daniel Ransom both with two.
Furman took control in the first half and breezed to an 88-70 win at Timmons Arena. Noah Gurley and Jalen Slawson paced the Paladins with 16 points apiece. Clay Mounce added 14, and Jonny Lawrence had 11.
Cork topped Western with 15 points. Gibson netted 13, and Halvorsen, Hightower and Faulkner all had 11.
With Hightower and Gibson hitting three-pointers, the Cats jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first three and a half minutes.
Furman went on a three-point barrage by hitting five in a 17-2 run. Mounce had a pair, and Lawrence’s trey made it 19-11 with 13:42 on the clock.
The lead reached 53-28 on Slawson’s three-pointer at the 1:14 mark, and it was 55-31 at halftime.
The largest margin was 74-42 on Mounce’s layup with 10:25 to play.
WCU shot better from the floor at 51 percent to 49.3 by the Paladins. Furman made 63.6 percent of its attempts in the first half.
Western was hurt by 18 turnovers, while the Paladins had seven.
Rounding out the WCU scoring were Harris with four, Ransom with three, and Massey and Ahmir Langlais both with one.