Damari Monsanto vs. VMI

ETSU’s Damari Monsanto is coming off a 19-point, 14-rebound performance against VMI.

Western Carolina currently resides at the bottom of the Southern Conference basketball standings, but East Tennessee State coach Jason Shay has reminded his team to beware the angry Catamount.

The Bucs play at Western Carolina on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and the Catamounts are the only SoCon team without a conference victory. After opening the league schedule with a loss at ETSU on Dec. 30, they had three games postponed because of COVID-19 protocol and then lost a pair of heartbreakers to Mercer (78-76) and Samford (82-78).

“They’re going to come in ready to play and try to punch us in the mouth,” Shay said. “We have to be able to stand there and take it and be able to throw punches back and not get knocked to the mat. I’m expecting a big fight. Their backs are against the wall, so to speak. We have to come prepared.”

The Bucs are coming off a 92-81 victory over VMI, a game in which they set a school record with 16 made 3-point shots. The result left ETSU 7-5 overall, 3-1 in the SoCon.

CLOSING IN ON 1,000

ETSU’s Ledarrius Brewer needs three points to reach 1,000 for his career, but he says it won’t be a priority to make it happen right away.

“I’ll be looking forward to it but I don’t think it’ll be that quick,” he said. “If I just keep it in the flow of game, it’ll happen eventually.”

Brewer finished with 23 points against VMI. Seventeen of them came in the first half. Needing just three more points to reach 1,000, he didn’t score over the final 12 minutes.

“I didn’t know that,” Brewer said of his proximity to the milestone. “I mean I don’t really keep up with stuff like that anyways but, you know, next game.”

Brewer played two years at Southeast Missouri State, where he scored 811 points, before transferring to ETSU.

MORE FROM DAMARI

Damari Monsanto’s role with the Bucs has continued to increase. The red-shirt freshman, who averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds a game as a senior in high school, is showing a total game these days.

The 6-foot-7 forward had 19 points and 14 rebounds against VMI. He made three of the record 3-point haul and increased his season averages to 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds.

HOT HALVORSEN

Kingsport’s Matt Halvorsen, a senior guard for Western Carolina, ranks second nationally in 3-pointers made per game at 4.1. Interestingly, he also ranks second in the SoCon, to The Citadel’s Kaiden Rice, who averages 5.1.

Halvorsen, who went over the 1,000-point mark for his career earlier this season, is closing in on Western Carolina’s record for 3-pointers in a career. He enters the game with 263. Jake Robinson, who played for the Catamounts from 2006-10, had 278.

Halvorsen is averaging 15.4 points per game.

SCOUTING THE CATAMOUNTS

Western Carolina comes in 7-5 overall, 0-3 in the SoCon. The Catamounts haven’t played at home since Jan. 6.

“I see a very hungry team that wants to win at home,” Monsanto said. “They just want to come out and make it a dogfight.”

Senior guard Mason Faulkner leads the Catamounts in scoring at 17.4 points per game. Xavier Cork averages 15.0 and Cory Hightower 14.0.

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