WCU edges McNeese 76-74

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CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Antavion Collum’s three-pointer at the buzzer fell just off the mark and Western Carolina escaped with a 76-74 win over McNeese here Saturday afternoon.

The loss was the first of the season for the Cowboys as they fall to 4-1. Western Carolina, who has beaten Notre Dame and Middle Tennessee this season, improves to 4-0 on the season.

McNeese will be back in action next Tuesday and Wednesday when it takes part in the Louisiana Tech MTE where it will play Texas State on Tuesday and Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. Both games will begin at 3 p.m.

Shahada Wells scored a career-high 37 points behind 14 of 24 shooting, including 4-5 from three-point range. He also pulled down seven rebounds with three assists and three steals.

Collum finished with 10 points as the only other double-digit scorer. DJ Richards Jr. scored nine while Christian Shumate added eight points and eight rebounds while Javohn Garcia scored eight.

Russell Jones Jr. led four Catamount double-figure scorers with 19 points. Tre Jackson scored 15, Vonterius Woolbright 14 and DJ Campbell 11.

Wells played all 40 minutes in the game and bettered his previous career-best of 31 points scored as a member of UT Arlington in the 2020-21 season.

Garcia scored all his points in the second half and hit his only three of the game with 3:42 to play to tie the game at 71-71.

McNeese had an opportunity to take the lead three following possessions but failed to get a shot to fall. WCU got a 3 from Campbell to go up 74-71 with 1:45 left then Wells cut the margin to 74-72 at the 1:33 mark. After a Catamount miss, a jumper by Richards Jr. tied the game 74-74 with 34 seconds to play then Woolbright put WCU up 76-74 with just under three seconds remaining.

The Cowboys took a couple of timeouts to set up the game-winning play, but Collum’s attempt at the buzzer-beater missed its target.

McNeese connected on 52 percent of its shots (29-56) for the game, including 55 percent (16-29) in the second half. The Cowboys also sank 7 of 15 from long range but made just 9 of 18 at the free throw line.

WCU also made 29 of 56 from the field and hit 11 of 25 from behind the arc. The Catamounts made 7 of 10 at the line. Each team pulled down 30 rebounds.

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