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WNCC men topple Western Wyoming 96-81 in home debut
 November 20, 2012

Cody Johnson finished with a double-double and the Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team rolled to a 96-81 win over Western Wyoming Community College in the Cougars’ home debut Tuesday evening at Cougar Palace.

 “We came out with a lot more energy in the second half and we just wanted to win,” Johnson said. “We played really good team ball. We got rebounds and we went out there and did what we needed to do.”

 Johnson finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the game and the Cougar big man said that he was out there just doing his job.

 "I did what my team needed me to do,” the 6-foot-10 center from Salt Lake City said, “ and that was to rebound. My points just came by working hard on the boards.”

 Willie Mangum led all scorers with 30 points, including three 3-pointers. Quante Cooley also pitched in 12 points, while Youssoupha Kane had eight points.

 Johnson said this team has plenty of fire power.

 “We are a very deep team and we just need to get to a point where it doesn’t matter who scores and we are all happy with each other,” he said. “Some people are more offensive oriented than others, but we get equally as hyped when others score.”

 WNCC opened the contest with a blaze of glory, running to a 15-0 lead behind seven points from Mangum. Western Wyoming finally scored its first points on two free throws by Jonathon Mines. WNCC came back to go up 17-2 before the Mustangs went on a 17-2 run to knot the score at 19-19.

 Western Wyoming came back to take a 39-32 lead on a bucket by Eric Rippetoe. WNCC responded with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer by Trey Moore for a take a 39-37 lead. The Cougars went into the locker room ahead 41-40.

 Johnson said head coach Russ Beck told them keep playing hard.

 "He told us box out hard and come out with the energy that we started the game,” he said. “We did that and it ended in a 15 point win.”

  The Cougars opened up the second half as Mangum buried a 3-pointer to put the Cougars up 44-40. WNCC pushed the lead to 53-46 on a Mangum trey and a Johnson dunk for a 52-46 lead.

Western Wyoming sliced the lead to 54-60 on a Daveon Gibson 3-pointer and trailed 71-67 with eight minutes to play. That was when the Cougars opened up the contest with a 11-0 run that was highlighted by a Zach Clemens 3-pointer and buckets by Mangum, Tahir Little, and Rich Williams for an 82-67 lead and the Cougars never looked back after that.

A big key for the Cougars was free throw shooting where the team sizzled the nets for a 93.3 average (15 of 16). Johnson said they have been working on their free throws.

“As a team we have been focused on getting our free throw percentages up,” he said. “It is improving each and every game and we are really happy about that.”

WNCC, 3-3, will be back in action Tuesday when they host Casper College at 7 p.m.

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