UNC Asheville's Andrew Rowsey scored 24 points, JaronLane added 22 and the Bulldogs held off a late Charleston Southern rally todefeat the Bucs, 82-71, at Kimmel Arena on Wednesday night.
CSU (11-15, 5-8 BSC) trailed 66-43 with 11:57 remainingbefore responding with a 14-0 run to close within nine in a span of just 3:09.The Bucs would come within 75-67 on a Matt Kennedy layup at the 3:02 mark, butit was too little too late.
Asheville (14-13, 8-5 BSC) took control of the game witha 25-3 run to end the first half. The extended spurt turned a 23-20 CSU leadinto a 45-26 halftime deficit, and the Bulldogs enjoyed a double digitadvantage for most of the rest of the contest.
CSU senior Sheldon Strickland tallied 18 of his game-high26 points after intermission to lead the Bucs' late charge. Will Saunderschipped in 14 and Kennedy had 12, but the Bucs struggled offensively for muchof the night with junior point guard Saah Nimley unavailable due to injury. CSUshot only 24 percent from the floor in the first half and committed tenturnovers, and finished the game shooting just 34 percent.
Asheville appeared ready to turn the contest into alaugher when Corey Littlejohn made a layup for a 66-43 lead, but six differentCSU players scored during a 14-0 run that made the Bulldogs work for victory.
Strickland started the surge with one of his five threeson the night, and the Bucs strung together a couple of defensive stops to worktheir way back into the game. Will Saunders buried a left wing three intransition to cut the Asheville lead to 66-55, and Kennedy hit two free throwsto cap the surge and suddenly put the Bucs down by only nine.
The Bulldogs would build their lead back to 13, only tosee the Bucs respond again. Strickland banked in a three from the top of thekey, and Kennedy connected on a mid-range jumper and a baseline drive to bringthe tally to 75-67. Lane sank a tough running jumper toward the end of the shotclock on Asheville's next possession, however, and the Bulldogs did enough downthe stretch to prevail.
CSU struggled shooting the ball throughout the firsthalf, but still had the lead at the 6:48 mark largely due to its reboundingeffort. The Bucs enjoyed a healthy rebounding margin for much of the openingstanza, and finished the night with a 45-39 edge on the glass against aconsiderably bigger Bulldogs' team. CSU also posted a 16-8 advantage in secondchance points, as a result of 16 offensive rebounds.
A layup for Asheville center D.J. Cunningham on thegame's first possession opened the scoring. Saunders put CSU on the board justover two minutes into play, as he buried a corner three from in front of theAsheville bench off dribble penetration by Strickland.
Asheville opened up an 11-5 lead on a layup by Rowsey,but CSU pushed ahead 12-11 with seven straight markers. Strickland hit hisfirst trey of the night, Harper swished a jumper and Kennedy glided to thebasket for two to give CSU the lead.
Much of the first half was back and forth in nature, asthe Bucs still led 23-20 on a Strickland fast break layup with 6:48 left untilhalftime. Littlejohn knocked down a three from the right wing on Asheville'snext trip down the floor, though, jumpstarting a 25-3 run to give the Bulldogscommand of the game.
Rowsey and Cunningham got the bulk of the run started atthe free throw line, and a layup by Rowsey and a Cunningham tip-in quicklyescalated the advantage to 40-26 at the 1:49 mark. Lane drilled a triplemoments later, and Jaleel Roberts hit a pair of free throws to conclude thefirst half scoring.
CSU wraps up a three-game road trip at Presbyterian onSaturday. Tipoff in Clinton, S.C. is set for 7 p.m.