Bulldogs hire ex-Navy quarterback

In 2003 at Navy, Craig Candeto rushed for six touchdowns in a 58-12 victory over Army, tying the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Another night, another hero for the Citadel basketball team.

This time, sophomore guard Cosmo Morrabi came off the bench to score 16 points, leading four Bulldogs in double figures as The Citadel trounced Western Carolina, 73-56, before 1,680 fans Thursday night at McAlister Field House.

Morabbi, averaging a mere 3.0 points per game, made all five of his 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the second half as the Bulldogs won their fifth straight game and pulled into third place in the Southern Conference South Division.

The Citadel is 15-12 overall and 9-6 in the SoCon, a half-game ahead of Davidson in the South Division, and the Bulldogs' 35 victories over the past two seasons mark the most successful two-year period in school history.

Morabbi added his name to a growing list of players -- Ben Cherry, Bo Holston, Harrison DuPont, Austin Dahn -- who have stepped up in recent games to make this Citadel team far more than the Cam and Zach Show.

"It's the same thing I've said every time," said junior guard Zach Urbanus. "We expect guys to step up, and they are ready to step up. That's what Cosmo did, he was ready to knock down the shots and he did it."

Morabbi, a 6-2 left-hander from Beverly Hills, had a nice freshman year last season, averaging 18.8 minutes and 4.5 points per game. But he has been quiet this season, scoring only two points in the last four games and getting into double figures only twice, against Central Connecticut State and Houston.

"I started out this year trying to find my role, and that's really important," Morabbi said. "I think part of the time I lost that role, but I feel like I'm back. I understand what I have to do, what everybody has to do, and what my role is on the team. And now's a good time to do it."

Morabbi's minutes had fallen off recently with solid play from Dahn, who hit five triples and scored 16 points in Saturday's win at Elon. That caught the Catamounts' attention, and Dahn was held to just two shots Thursday.

Enter Cosmo, who swished three treys during the decisive 15-2 run, giving The Citadel a 56-43 lead with 9:13 left.

"A great sign of a team," coach Ed Conroy said. "Those guys know their teammates have confidence in them. We had a few guys battling illness tonight, and Cosmo was one of them. But I said before the game, you won't be able to tell who's sick and who's not. Cosmo stepped up and had a big, big night."

He wasn't alone, as The Citadel placed four players in double figures for just the second time, and scored in the 70s for the third straight game after reaching that mark just twice in the first 24 games.

Urbanus scored 14 points with five assists, and Cameron Wells added 13 points, five assists and four rebounds. DuPont scored the first nine points of the second half and racked up his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

"The Citadel was much more than just Wells and Urbanus," WCU coach Larry Hunter said. "Once they got the 3-ball going, with Wells' penetration, they really had it rolling offensively."

A couple of other factors were key: the work of Bryan Streeter and DuPont on the glass, and the Bulldogs' defense on WCU standouts Brandon Giles and Harouna Mutombo.

WCU (19-9, 9-7) had 11 second-chance points and an 8-4 edge on the offensive glass while taking an 11-point lead in the first half. But Streeter and DuPont cleared the boards in the second half, combining for 10 rebounds and holding the Catamounts to two second-chance points. Steeter finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Meanwhile, Giles and Mutombo -- averaging 22.2 points between them -- were held to two points on 1 of 13 shooting. The Catamounts, whose 18-5 start included a 91-83 win at Louisville, have lost four of their last five as they stumble toward the SoCon Tournament.

The Citadel plays its final home game at 1 p.m. Saturday against UNC Greensboro.