Big East news eclipses West Carolina loss to Hoyas

It wouldn’t have been the best day for Western Carolina to end
is 0-for-forever streak against Top 25 teams.

Even if the Catamounts had pulled off the stunner over No. 15
Georgetown, it would have been eclipsed by more earthshaking news –
the confirmation that the Hoyas and six other schools were breaking
away from the rest of the Big East.

As it was, Western Carolina (4-7) was able to keep pace for most
of the first half in an 81-68 defeat, making the Catamounts 0-38
against teams ranked in the AP poll.

It was the latest in a series of tough nonconference road games
designed to bring in cash to Western Carolina’s athletic
department. The Catamounts played Top 25 Illinois tough this month
before falling 72-64.

”I’ve got to bring in a pretty good hunk of change every
year,” Coach Larry Hunter said, ”to help our entire program. …
We haven’t won any of them yet, but we’ve competed pretty well.
We’re getting better.”

Hunter sat two regular contributors – Trey Sumler and Brandon
Boggs – for the first half for missing a video session Friday
night. Tom Tankelewicz made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high
24 points to lead the Catamounts, whose outside shooting kept the
game close until Georgetown’s 13-3 run to end first half.

Greg Whittington scored a career-high 25 points for the Hoyas.
Jabril Trawick added a career-high 14, and Otto Porter had 12.

Afterward, all the talk revolved about the future of the Big
East and big-time college basketball in general. Such issues
overshadowed anything Hunter or Georgetown coach John Thompson III
had to say about the game.

”Georgetown was an outstanding program before the Big East,
we’ve been an outstanding program during our time in the Big East,
and we’re going to be an outstanding program with whatever tomorrow
holds,” Thompson said. ”The stability is up on the Hilltop, the
stability is within our institution, and whoever wants to be with
us can be with us.”

Known first and foremost as a basketball school – Georgetown’s
football team plays before small crowds on its Hilltop campus and
will remain in the Patriot League – the Hoyas were anxious to
separate themselves from a conference that gone to geographic
extremes to attract schools such as Boise State and San Diego State
to stay relevant in big-time gridiron.

”In terms of our model for intercollegiate athletics, our broad
base model that’s basketball-centric, that’s something that’s
important to us,” Reed said. ”That has defined us for well over a
generation. We’re committed to doing that. We’re committed to
pursuing that and think this new structure provides the best
opportunity right now moving forward to do that.”

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