By Carey Phillips
Drew Pember and L.J. Thorpe both scored 19 points Saturday as UNC-Asheville held on for a 73-72 non-conference men’s basketball victory over Western Carolina in front of 2,418 fans at the Ramsey Center.
Tajion Jones added 12 points for the Bulldogs.
Nick Robinson led the Catamounts (6-5) with 15 points. Joe Petrakis followed with 13, and Vonterius Woolbright had 10.
A three-pointer by Marcus Banks with 11:57 left in the game gave WCU a 48-47 lead, its first since midway through the first half.
It was the first of six lead changes in the second half.
Western’s largest lead of the period was 58-54 on Petrakis’ dunk at the 7:03 mark.
Thorpe’s layup with 4:34 on the clock gave UNC-A the lead for good, 62-61.
The margin reached 71-66 on Pember’s layup with 31 seconds left.
Travion McCray hit a pair of three-pointers in the final 13 seconds cutting the gap to 73-72 with two seconds left.
After the Bulldogs missed two free throws, the Cats did not have time to attempt a desperation shot.
Western jumped to a 14-6 lead on Cameron Bacote’s free throw with 12:41 to go in the first half.
Pember hit a pair of three-pointers in a 19-2 run as UNC-A built a 25-16 lead on Trent Stephney’s basket at the 8:10 mark.
The margin reached 34-24 as Thorpe nailed a three-pointer with 3:40 on the clock, and the Bulldogs were up 37-33 at halftime.
UNC-A shot 45 percent from the floor, and WCU made 43.1 percent of its attempts.
Woolbright’s nine rebounds helped the Cats control the boards 42-34. Pember led all rebounders with 13.
Western committed 12 turnovers, and the Bulldogs had 10.
Completing the WCU scoring were McCray and Tyler Harris with eight apiece, Banks with seven, Marvin Price with six and Bacote with five.