ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Jaron Lane scored a career-high 24 points as UNC Asheville earned its fourth straight win with a 75-61 victory over UNC Wilmington before a season-high crowd of 2,134 fans at Kimmel Arena Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (5-7) also had a solid game from D.J. Cunningham with 13 points and a season-high 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Andrew Rowsey finished with 15 points, while Sam Hughes added 10 points.
UNC Wilmington (6-8) was led by Freddie Jackson and Cedrick Williams with 15 points each. Tanner Milson chipped in 12 points.
The win was a special one for the Bulldogs as they welcomed back former head coach Eddie Biedenbach who is now an assistant with the Seahawks.
Asheville led from start to finish as the home team scored the first five points of the game and built a 20-point lead in both the first and second halves before weathering several Seahawk comeback.
The game was tied at 14-14 when the Bulldogs went on a 14-4 run to race to a 28-18 lead. Asheville scored on seven straight possessions to take a 10-point lead on a Corey Littlejohn lay-up at the 7:38 mark.
The Bulldogs continued to build on the lead and went on another 14-4 run to sprint to a 42-22 lead. Lane had nine points during the run. Hughes finished the run with an emphatic dunk at the 3:11 mark.
The Bulldogs shot a season-high .621 (18-of-29) from the field in the opening half as Asheville settled for a 45-29 halftime lead.
Asheville built the lead back to 59-39 on a trey from Rowsey with a 13:17 left in the game. UNCW started to climb back in the game and closed to 62-50 on two free throws from Milson at 6:38.
Leading 65-52, the Bulldogs put the game away with a 7-2 run as Hughes’ lay-up pushed the margin to 72-54.
Asheville held a 39-33 rebounding advantage as Lane grabbed a season-high eight rebounds.
UNC Asheville plays next on Tuesday afternoon when the Bulldogs host NAIA foe Montreat College at 2 p.m.
UNC Asheville is 29-6 all-time at Kimmel Arena.
The Bulldogs are 9-2 in the month of December over the past two years.
Asheville finished the year 2-0 against the CAA with a win at College of Charleston earlier this season. The Bulldogs have won their last three games against the CAA dating back to last year.
It was the Bulldogs first win over UNC Wilmington since Jan. 20, 1975 as Asheville had lost its last 11 games against the Seahawks.
Senior center D.J. Cunningham now has 641 career rebounds and 210 career blocks. He moved into seventh place on the school’s career list on Saturday for rebounding.
Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in 11 of the Bulldogs 12 games this season.
Jaron Lane has 927 career points.
The Bulldogs are 5-0 when they out-rebound their opponents.