ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville Bulldogs return to Kimmel Arena on Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs host UNC Wilmington starting at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game will be regionally televised by WMYA-TV (TV-40) and can also be seen on ESPN3 and the Big South Digital Network. It will also be broadcast locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 4 p.m.
The contest with the Seahawks will bring some familiar faces back to Asheville as former Bulldog head coach Eddie Biedenbach returns with UNCW as an assistant coach. Eddie was Asheville’s head coach from 1996 through last spring before moving to UNC Wilmington as an assistant coach. Biedenbach led the Bulldog program to 256 victories during his tenure as is the school’s and Big South’s all-time winningest coach. He guided Asheville to five Big South Conference regular-season titles, three tournament championships and four post-season appearances.
Seahawk head coach Buzz Peterson is an Asheville native who enjoyed a stellar prep career at Asheville HS before graduating in 1981. He was a Bulldog ball-boy in the 1970’s. His family still lives in Asheville and his wife Jan is from Mars Hill. UNCW Director of Basketball Operations Kevin Easley was a member of the Bulldog coaching staff last year and did a great job during his time at UNC Asheville.
Asheville (4-7) is looking for its fourth straight on Saturday but it won’t be easy against a UNCW (6-7) squad that has beaten the Bulldogs 11 straight times, including a frustrating 67-59 defeat in Wilmington last year.
The Seahawks are 6-7 on the year and lost at home to Old Dominion last Saturday, 69-57.
“We’re playing a little better, but we’ve got a tough opponent in UNC Wilmington on Saturday,” commented first-year coach Nick McDevitt. “They’re a well-coached team that’s beaten some good teams this year, including Charleston Southern and Campbell from our league. We’ll need to be at our best Saturday.
“It’ll be great to have Coach Biedenbach back in town. This place was special to him, and he was very special to us,” stated McDevitt. “Once the ball goes up, though, it’ll be all business.”
Asheville is in the midst of a four-game homestand as the Bulldogs host Montreat on Dec. 31 and Ohio University next Saturday (Jan. 4) at 2 p.m.
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey leads the Bulldogs in scoring with a 15.7 average. Senior forward Jaron Lane is averaging 12.1 points per game, while senior center D.J. Cunningham is at 11.6 points and a team-leading 9.0 rebounds per game.
UNC Asheville is 28-6 all-time at Kimmel Arena. This will be the first time the Bulldogs have ever hosted a Colonial Athletic Association team at Kimmel.
UNCW has won the last 11 meetings between the teams and has a 14-7 series lead. The Bulldogs have not defeated the Seahawks since Jan. 20, 1975 when they downed UNCW, 63-47 at Justice Center.
The Bulldogs are 4-0 when they out-rebound their opponents this year.
Asheville is 1-0 against the CAA this year as the Bulldogs won at College of Charleston on Nov. 15, 67-58 in overtime.
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games this season.
The Bulldogs are starting an all-freshman backcourt in Andrew Rowsey and David Robertson. Asheville is 3-2 with the duo starting in the backcourt.
Asheville has used six different starting lineups this year with all the injuries the Bulldogs have sustained.
Senior center D.J. Cunningam has 625 career rebounds and is in eighth place on the school’s career list. Cunningham’s six blocks against Virginia Intermont gave him 203 career blocks. He’s just the second player in school history to have more than 600 rebounds and more than 200 blocks.
Senior forward Jaron Lane has made 18 straight free throws.