ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Matt Dickey scored a career-high 29 points to lead third-seeded UNC Asheville to a 72-63 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Tournament quarterfinal victory over sixth-seeded Charleston Southern Tuesday night before a close to sell-out crowd of 1,015 at Justice Center.
The victory propelled the Bulldogs (17-13) to the semifinals of the tournament for the fifth straight year. Asheville will face seventh-seeded High Point, a 66-60 upset winner over second-seeded Liberty, in Thursday night's semifinals at Coastal Carolina starting at 6 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN.
Jamarco Warren led a determined Buccaneer (16-16) attack with 20 points. Kelvin Martin, the Big South's Defensive Player of the Year, added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jeremy Sexton finished with 11 points and five assists. Martin had two blocked shots and three steals on the night.
The Bulldogs also got 13 points from Jaron Lane, 12 points from Chris Stephenson and 11 points plus seven rebounds from John Williams.
Dickey went 9-of-14 from the field, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Asheville seized control of the game midway through the second half after trailing for most of the contest. Trailing 46-42 at the 12:23 mark after Mitchell scored on a five-footer, the Bulldogs went on a 15-2 run over the next six minutes to race to a 57-48 leads on Lane lay-up off a steal from Quinard Jackson with 7:13 remaining. Lane scored seven of his 11 second-half points during the run.
Asheville forced six turnovers during the run and had five steals that led to 10 Bulldog points. Dickey's trey at 10:26 put the Bulldogs in front for good at 49-46.
The home team eventually led by 11 at 63-52 on a lay-up from Dickey with 2:28 remaining when CSU made one more run. The Bulldogs missed four free throws and Warren got hot from long range. The senior guard hit back-to-back treys with his second, cutting the margin to 66-63 at the 50 second mark.
But the Buccaneers would not score again. Dickey was fouled at the 44-second mark. He made two free throws to push the lead to 68-63. Warren finally missed and Lane hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to make it 70-63. Williams dunked at the five-second mark to seal the Bulldogs season-high fourth straight victory.
The Bulldogs won despite getting just five points from second leading scorer J.P. Primm. The junior guard did have five assists and two steals.
CSU out-rebounded Asheville 36-28. However, the Bucs made 23 turnovers that led to 28 Bulldog points. Asheville had just 13 turnovers.
The Buccaneers controlled much of the first half thanks to some tenacious defense that limited the Bulldog attack. CSU also dominated the boards as it out-rebounded the home team 20-10.
Warren had 12 points in the opening half and his 15-footer gave the Bucs a 29-23 with two minutes to go. But Asheville responded with the final six points, getting two steals and a lay-up from Dickey with 10 seconds to go to knot the game at 29-29 at intermission.
Dickey kept Asheville in the game with 16 first-half points. The junior guard was 5-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
Eddie Biedenbach (UNC Asheville)
"We played some very good defense in the second half that helped us get the win tonight. We were able to get some steals which got us going offensively and led to some easy baskets. Matt Dickey was just tremendous. He hit some big shots for us and I thought really played hard on defense.
Charleston Southern is a very good team and is well-coached. They really hammered us on the boards in the first half and made nothing easy for us throughout the game. Even when we built a lead in the second half, I knew they would make a run and they certainly did. Luckily, we were able to hit some free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
You have to feel good about winning when two of your starters - J.P. Primm and Quinard Jackson - had tough nights. J.P. had a tough night shooting and it will be a long time before you see him 3-of-10 from the free throw line like he did tonight. However, our guys grinded it out when we had to and advanced in the tournament."
Barclay Radebaugh (Charleston Southern)
"Congratulations to UNC Asheville. Coach Biedenbach had his team prepared and they made the plays in the second half they had to do to win the game. Matt Dickey was just tremendous and he hit some big shots for them when they had to have them.
Congratulations to Charleston Southern, as well. We won 16 games this year and that's the most for the program since 1996 and won nine conference games and that's the most for our program since 1995. We're a good program now but I want to be great and that's our next step for us to take.
"Kelvin Martin was just great for us tonight. He's a warrior that goes to battle every night. He's the future of our program and I couldn't be happier about that."