ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville Bulldogs begin a two-game homestand Wednesday night when they host South Division rival Gardner-Webb in a key Big South Conference contest at Kimmel Arena starting at 7 p.m. The game will be televised locally by WMYA-TV (MY40) starting with their pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday's game will also be broadcast locally on radio at WWNC (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. It will be video-streamed by the Big South Network and ESPN3.
UNC Asheville is offering a Bulldog Pride special on tickets. Fans can buy one adult ticket and get the second one free. The deal is also good for Saturday's game with Charleston Southern. Fans are also encouraged to bring cans of food to Wednesday's game as UNC Asheville's SAAC is collecting food for MANNA Food Bank.
The Bulldogs (15-10, 9-2) face a Gardner-Webb squad that dominated Asheville last month in Boiling Springs. GWU downed the Dogs, 79-72 in a game that the Runnin' Bulldogs led from start to finish. Gardner-Webb (14-11, 6-5 BSC) comes into Wednesday's game with wins in four of its last five games, including a 74-73 overtime win at Charleston Southern on Jan. 30. It was the Buccaneers first league loss of the season.
"Gardner-Webb beat us pretty good last month," commented Asheville head coach Eddie Biedebach. "We made some runs at them in the second half, but they really dominated us both on offense and defense. We're going to have play so much better than we did last month to have any chance at winning Wednesday night."
Biedenbach has been impressed with the Runnin' Bulldogs all year long.
"Gardner-Webb is a good team. They went into DePaul and won easily," admitted Biedenbach. "They lost at the buzzer at Illinois. Gardner-Webb is very well-coached, plays good defense and has some talented players. We'll need our A-game to beat them."
Asheville is also playing pretty well right now. The Bulldogs have won seven straight and moved into first place in the South Division at 9-2. Biedenbach's charges are a half-game in front of second-place Charleston Southern at 8-2. Asheville is coming off a 90-79 victory at VMI Friday night.
"We did a nice job at VMI Friday," explained Biednebach. "Our guys executed very well on offense and didn't turn it over much against VMI's defense. We had some guys come off the bench and spark us when we really had to have someone step up. That was a big win on Friday but Wednesday's game is a big one, as well."
Senior forward Jeremy Atkinson leads the Bulldogs in scoring (17.7) and rebounding (7.5). He's scored at least 20 points in the past four games. Sophomore guard Keith Hornsby is averaging 15.1 points per game after scoring 24 points at VMI. He leads the Big South and is second nationally in free throw percentage at .945.
Gardner-Webb is led by senior guard Tashan Newsome with a 15.2 scoring average. He scored 33 points against Asheville last season at Kimmel Arena. Donta Harper averages 12.8 points per game. Kevin Hartley has made 47 three-pointers and is shooting .470 from long distance.
UNC Asheville is 24-3 all-time at Kimmel Arena and 16-1in Big South Conference games here. Asheville has posted 13 straight home wins against BSC opponents dating back to last season.
The Bulldogs have won three straight games against South Division foes after losing their first two South games against Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern.
Asheville has won seven straight games for the fourth straight year. The Bulldogs are looking for their first eight-game winning streak since the 1997-98 team won nine consecutive games.
Jeremy Atkinson has scored in double figures in 32 of the last 33 games dating back to last year. However, he only scored 10 points against Gardner-Webb back on Jan. 9.
Keith Hornsby has hit 19 straight free throws. He set a school record earlier this year by making 45 straight free throws. He is 26-for-26 against South Division opponents this season.
The Bulldogs are 34-4 in their last 38 games against BSC opponents.
Freshman forward Will Weeks scored a career-high 27 points at Gardner-Webb last time. He also set a school record for field goal percentage by going 11-for-12 from the field.
Asheville has out-rebounded six of its last seven opponents.
Wednesday's game starts a stretch when the Bulldogs will play four of their next five games at Kimmel Arena.