ASHEVILLE, N.C. -Ashley Holliday scored 25 points as Kennesaw State held off a late UNC Asheville rally as the Owls recorded a 71-62 victory Thursday night at Kimmel Arena.
The Bulldogs (2-8) were led by Shonese Jones with 22 points, while Kelli Riles enjoyed her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 19 rebounds.
KSU (3-6) was aided by 13 points from Kristina Young and 11 points from Chelsea Mason.
Kennesaw State built an 18-point lead in the first before Asheville rallied in the second half to close to six on three different occasions but could not get any close.
"We didn't do a good job defensively in the first half and allowed Kennesaw State to build a big lead," stated Asheville coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. "We battled back in the second half, but we just had too far to come all the way back."
Holliday was deadly from long-range as she went 5-of-10 from the 3-point line. She was also 6-of-9 from the free throw line.
Riles now has 866 career rebounds. She's in fourth place on Asheville's career list and needs just 23 to move past Kim Duncan (888) into third place.
The Bulldogs built a 17-13 lead midway through the first half as Paige Love knocked down a long 3-pointer to give Asheville a four-point lead.
But the Owls behind Holliday scored the next 11 points to race to a 24-17 lead. She scored seven of the points in the run.
The lead continued to balloon as Bria Young knocked down her second trey of the half as KSU led 39-21 at the 1:40 mark. The Owls led 39-24 at halftime.
Holliday had 16 points in the opening half. KSU went 7-of-17 from long distance. Jones led Asheville with nine points, while Riles collected 11 rebounds.
Young knocked down a trey at the 14-minute mark of the second half to give KSU a 46-32 lead. The Bulldogs rallied and closed to 49-43 on a lay-up from Abra Sickles with 9:28 remaining.
But Kennesaw held off the charge and got the lead to 60-48 with five minutes left when Holliday hit a 3-pointer.
Asheville made one more run and closed to 66-60 when Grace Blaylock hit a long 3-pointer with 1:36 left. The Owls missed two free throws, and Asheville came down with the rebound. But the Bulldogs could not get any close. KSU went 3-of-4 from the free throw line to seal the victory.
UNC Asheville is back in action Tuesday afternoon at the Hatter Classic at Stetson in Deland, Fla. The Bulldogs battle Bethune-Cookman Tuesday at 3 p.m.