ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Gentry Manley scored a career-high 18 points as UNC Asheville gave first-year Bulldog head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick her first victory as the Bulldogs defeated Montreat, 77-50.
Asheville (1-3) placed four other players in double figures in the victory. Kelli Riles finished with a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Jeannie Buckner contributed 11 points, while Paige Love and Grace Blaylock added 10 points.
The Cavaliers came into the game with a 6-1 record. Tuesday's contest was only an exhibition game for Montreat and did not count against its record. The Cavaliers were led by Alexandria Gellman with 14 points. Pearl Henriquez chipped in 11 points.
"I'm glad to get the win. We did a nice job passing the ball, and I really pleased to have 22 assists," stated Kirkpatrick. "Montreat is a good team that made it tough on us throughout the game. I like the balanced scoring we had, and our defense was pretty good most of the way."
Montreat led early as the Cavaliers jumped on top 13-4 before the Bulldogs got their offense and defense going. Gellman scored five early points for the NAIA school. Asheville went on an 18-0 run over a five-minute span of the opening half to race to a 22-13 lead. Blaylock sparked the run with seven points as five different Bulldogs scored. The home team forced six of Montreat's 13 first-half turnovers during the run.
The Cavaliers responded and behind Gellman. She scored eight points over the next six minutes to bring Montreat within 28-27 with four minutes left in the game.
Asheville rallied in the final four minutes to build a 39-30 halftime lead. Blaylock began the run with a long 3-pointer. Leah Wormack scored the final four points of the half for the Bulldogs.
Blaylock led Asheville with 10 points in the opening half, while Love and Manley scored eight points. Love added four assists.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the second half as they scored the first seven points to lead 46-30.
Montreat crept back and closed to 50-42 with 13 minutes left on a jumper from Regan Few. Asheville led 58-46 at the nine-minute mark before going on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to put the game away. Buckner hit a key three-pointer in the run.
The Cavaliers could only score four points the rest of the game as Asheville ended a 15-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Manley went 9-of-11 from the field, while Riles was 6-of-8 from the field. Blaylock and Buckner had five assists each. Every Bulldog who played grabbed at least two rebounds as Asheville enjoyed a 47-33 advantage in rebounding.
UNC Asheville plays next at ACC power North Carolina on Sunday starting at 2 p.m. Saturday's game will be broadcast locally on WPEK Radio (880-AM).