ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville women's basketball team returns to Kimmel Arena Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs host Columbia College starting at 2 p.m.
Saturday's game will be broadcast locally on WPEK (880-AM) radio with the pre-game show starting at 1:45 p.m. The game will also be video-streamed and can be seen under the multimedia tag at www.uncabulldogs.com.
Fans attending the game will get a free royal blue pom-pom. In addition, Saturday games have been designated as Signature Saturday as the women's team will be signing autographs after the game on the Kimmel Arena concourse.
Asheville (1-7) looks to break a four-game losing streak on Saturday against Columbia. This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs. The Bulldogs are the third Big South Conference team that the Fighting Koalas have faced this season as they've played at Coastal Carolina and Campbell. They played at Campbell on Monday morning and fell 84-54. Columbia (3-7) will play at Bob Jones tonight before coming to Asheville on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are coming off a frustrating 54-52 road loss at USC Upstate Monday night. Asheville led by 14 early in the second half only to fall in the final minutes in the Spartans.
The Blue & White have been struggling with injuries all year but will get a key player back on Saturday. Sophomore guard Brittany Gwyn returns to the court and should make an immediate impact. Gwyn has missed the first seven games of the year due to a knee injury. She played in just 10 games last year due to injuries but made a real impact when she played. Gwyn averaged 8.5 points per game and shot .476 (10-of-21) from the 3-point line. The Bulldogs were 4-6 with her in the line-up last season and won just one game after she was hurt and missed the rest of the season.
Asheville plays it final home game before Christmas next Thursday (Dec. 13) against Kennesaw State with tip-off at 6 p.m.
Sophomore guard Shonese Jones has scored more than 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time this season. She scored 21 points vs. Campbell last Saturday and then tallied a season-high 23 points at USC Upstate Monday night. Jones is the Bulldogs leading scorer with a 13.3 average which is ninth in the Big South.
Kelli Riles has 838 career rebounds, good for fourth place all-time on Asheville's career rebounds list. She needs 51 rebounds to move into third place past Kim Duncan (888) and 57 to move past Wendy Beecher (894) into second place. When she moves past Beecher, Kelli will become the school's Division I leader in rebounding. Sheila Ford holds the top spot with 2,200 rebounds. Riles grabbed 15 rebounds at USC Upstate Monday night and has collected at least 10 rebounds in four different games this season. Her 10.8 per game mark is second best in the Big South.
The Bulldogs defense has been much better this season under first-year coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. Asheville has limited four teams to below 60 points in a game this season. Take away the 101 points that national power North Carolina scored against the Bulldogs this season, Asheville is allowing opponents to score just 62 points per game.
Sophomore forward Jeannie Buckner has 15 field goals on the year with 12 being from long-distance. Her 12 treys lead the team with her 16 assists second best on the club.
Asheville just needs to learn to finish teams off. The Bulldogs are 1-3 when leading at halftime this season. The Blue & White now have a little more depth than it did earlier this season and that should help.