By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s men’s basketball team improved to 4-0 in overtime Friday with a 76-70 non-conference victory at College of Charleston.
Cory Hightower scored 17 points and was nine of nine from the foul line in his debut for the Catamounts (7-2). The junior transfer from Presbyterian became eligible when the NCAA Division I Council granted a blanket waiver allowing all transfers to compete immediately this season after meeting specific criteria. The waiver applies only to players who transferred from another Division I school.
Also scoring in double figures for WCU were Mason Faulkner with 14, Matt Halvorsen with 13 , and Tyler Harris and Xavier Cork with 11 apiece.
Zap Jasper and Payton Willis led the Cougars with 16 points each, and Dontavius King had 14.
Western outscored Charleston 9-3 in OT.
A free throw by Harris put the Cats ahead to stay, 68-67, at the 3:49 mark.
Hightower made two foul shots and hit a jumper for a 72-67 edge with 1:43 on the clock.
The Cougars forced the extra session when Willis nailed a three-pointer with two seconds to play in regulation.
WCU led almost the entire game, but the margin was close. The biggest lead was 47-40 on Ahmir Lang-lais’ jumper at the 14:19 mark.
Consecutive three-pointers by Willis and Jasper gave the Cougars their first lead since the opening basket at 60-56 with 4:31 on the clock.
Cork scored a pair of baskets, and Hightower and Halvorsen both hit two free throws as Western regained the lead at 64-60 with 2:17 to go.
Cork’s layup and Halvorsen’s trey put the Cats up 16-11 with 11:33 to play in the first half.
The largest lead of the period was 33-27 on Harris’ three-pointer with 3:56 to go.
WCU led 38-34 at halftime.
Western made 49 percent of its field goal tries, including 55.6 percent in the first half. Charleston was held to 41.3 percent.
Both teams had 35 rebounds. King was the game’s top rebounder with 10. Cork led the Cats with nine.
Completing the WCU scoring were Travion McCray with eight and Lang-lais with two.