Catamounts and Terriers meet for SoCon crown

Mar 10, 2014 - 2:42 PM Asheville, NC ( - In a surprising twist, the fifth-seeded Western Carolina Catamounts and the third-seeded Wofford Terriers will decide who will represent the Southern Conference in the NCAA Tournament when they meet at U.S. Cellular Center on Monday night.

March is always filled with upsets and on Sunday Western Carolina pulled off a big one, topping two-time defending conference champion and top-seed Davidson 99-97 in overtime. The fifth-seeded Catamounts are now 19-14 as they gun for their second conference crown, with the other coming all the way back in 1996.

The Terriers were also the beneficiary of some upsets in this tournament, although not ones produced by them. They beat 11th-seeded Citadel in the quarterfinals after the Bulldogs took down sixth-seeded UNC Greensboro. They then defeated No. 7 Georgia Southern in the semifinals, after the Eagles knocked out second-seeded Chattanooga. On Monday, they have chance to earn their first SoCon title since winning back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011.

In the lone meeting during the regular season, Wofford claimed a 71-60 triumph at home. However, Western Carolina has the edge in the all-time series, 25-20.

Trey Sumler broke a 97-97 tie with three seconds to play in overtime to lift Western Carolina over Davidson on Sunday. The Catamounts knocked down 51.6 percent of their shots in the game and outscored the Wildcats 25-9 in second- chance points.

For the season, WCU is averaging 74.9 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting. The Catamounts are fourth in the league in scoring, despite shooting the second- worst percentage from the field among all SoCon teams. Sumler (17.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) is in the driver's seat for the offense, leading the way in both scoring and assists. In fact, Sumler is at the top of the conference in assists and fifth in points per game. He finished with 25 points and seven assists against Davidson. Lending support are Brandon Boggs (12.3 ppg) and James Sinclair (11.9 ppg), who had 21 and 26 points, respectively, in the semifinals.

Paced by a double-double from Lee Skinner (15 points, 12 rebounds), Wofford was able to ease its way past Georgia Southern. The Terriers limited the Eagles to seven field goals in the first 20 minutes to claim a 33-20 lead at the break and never looked back, shooting 56 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes.

Wofford hasn't been overly impressive at the offensive end of the court this season, ranking ninth in the SoCon in scoring (67.5 ppg), although they do knock down a decent 44.9 percent of their field goal attempts. Part of the reason for the limited offensive production is the slower tempo the team prefers, as it does just fine defensively, allowing 63.3 ppg to its opponents. It certainly showed how effective such a tempo can be on Sunday. Karl Cochran (15.5 ppg) leads a group of three double-digit scorers, with Spencer Collins (13.2 ppg) and Skinner (11.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) following close behind.

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