Western Carolina (18-14) vs. Davidson (20-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 9, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Center (7,654) -- Asheville, North Carolina. Television: CSS,ESPN3.com. Home Record: WCU 11-2, Davidson 8-4. Away Record: WCU 5-11, Davidson 10-3. Neutral Record: WCU 2-1, Davidson 2-4. Conference Record: WCU 10-6, Davidson 15-1. Series Record: Davidson leads, 40-20.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded Davidson Wildcats' next hurdle in their quest for a third straight Southern Conference Tournament title is a semifinal bout with the Western Carolina Catamounts at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Davidson's dominance against the rest of the SoCon carried over in its first matchup of this tournament, as it rolled over Samford, 77-54, in Saturday's second round. The Wildcats, who had a bye in the first round, are now 20-11 overall, marking the third straight season they have reached the 20-win mark.
Western Carolina pulled off a minor upset in its second-round matchup, as the fifth-seeded Catamounts edged out fourth-seeded Elon, 66-64. They improved to 18-14 overall with the victory and also ended a two-game slide that ended the regular season.
The Catamounts gave Davidson a challenge in the lone meeting between the two during the regular season, but fell short at home in an 82-77 final. The Wildcats have won five straight against Western Carolina and lead the all-time series, 41-20.
With the game tied at 61-61 with three minutes left in regulation, Western Carolina went on a 5-0 spurt over the next two-plus minutes to give itself enough of a cushion to defeat Elon. Brandon Boggs tallied 18 points in the win and Tawaski King added a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
For the year, WCU is averaging 74.1 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. The Catamounts are fourth in the league in scoring, despite shooting the second- worst percentage from the field among all SoCon teams. Trey Sumler (17.4 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. However, he managed only three points on 1-of-7 shooting on Saturday. Lending support are Boggs (12.1 ppg) and James Sinclair (11.5 ppg).
SoCon Player of the Year De'Mon Brooks showed why he won the award against WCU, posting a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocks in only 23 minutes of action. The Wildcats only shot 43.1 percent from the floor, but had sizable scoring advantages from beyond the arc (21-6), at the free-throw line (20-6) and off turnovers (19-6).
It should come as no surprise that Davidson sits atop the SoCon in most offensive categories, considering how thoroughly they have controlled the league this season. The Wildcats are the top team in the conference in both scoring (78 ppg) and field goal percentage (.478), ranking 25th nationally in the latter during the regular season. Brooks (18.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) ranks third in the league in both scoring (18.4 ppg) and field goal percentage (.590) and is the best player on Davidson's roster. Brian Sullivan (13.3 ppg), Tyler Kalinoski (10.4 ppg) and Tom Droney (10.7 ppg) give the Wildcats plenty of depth.
If Western Carolina hopes to pull off an even bigger upset on Sunday it will need Sumler to return to form. Even if he does, the Catamounts face an uphill battle against a Davidson team that has been met with little resistance in the SoCon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Davidson 77, Western Carolina 65
03/09 10:20:23 ET