ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Ronnie Boggs tapped in a missed shot as time expired to give Jacksonville State a 71-69 victory over homestanding UNC Asheville Saturday afternoon at Kimmel Arena in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBuster series.
The loss was the Bulldogs' (15-14) fourth straight, while the Gamecocks won for the second straight game and improved their record to 17-10. Three of Asheville's losses have been by a combined five points. The last two losses have seen the Dogs lose on a shot with 5.9 seconds left at Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night and at the buzzer today.
Jeremy Atkinson was brilliant in defeat for the Bulldogs with 29 points. Sophomore guard Corey Littlejohn registered a career- best 19 points and seven rebounds.
Jacksonville State had four players in double figures. Tarvin Gaines led the Gamecocks with 18 points, while Brian Williams added 15 points. Darion Rackley and Boggs chipped in 13 points each. Boggs had seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
The loss spoiled a dramatic comeback by Asheville. The Bulldogs trailed by 62-53 left but stormed back to tie the game at 69-69.
Trailing 66-61 with 2:13 left, the home team scored the next six points to roar to a 67-66 lead. Littlejohn hit two free throws to narrow the lead to 66-63. Atkinson then tipped in missed Bulldog shot to make it 66-65 with 1:40 remaining.
Asheville forced a steal and took a 67-66 lead when Meyer scored on a 10-footer with 40 seconds left. Gaines came right back and knocked down a long 3-pointer to put JSU back in front, 69-67.
The Bulldogs got the ball to freshman Sam Hughes who had a lay-up spin in and out but was fouled at the eight-second mark. Hughes knocked down both free throws to knot the game at 69-69.
Jacksonville State came down and got the ball to Williams. His 15-footer missed but Boggs was right there for the tap-in as the buzzer sounded for the winning points.
The Ohio Valley Conference officiating crew reviewed the play and ruled the basket good as the Gamecocks sent the Bulldogs to their third straight home loss.
Both teams shot the ball very well in the first half. JSU shot .500 percent (12-of-24), while the Bulldogs shot .591 (13-of-22). Atkinson and Littlejohn had 13 points each for Asheville in the opening half, while Williams tallied 11 points for the visitors. Asheville used a late run to lead 32-31 at halftime.
The Bulldogs lost despite out-rebounding the Gamecocks, 35-28.
Atkinson went 11-of-18 from the field, 5-of-5 from the charity stripe and 2-of-2 from long distance. Asheville played its second straight game without second leading scorer Keith Hornsby. The sophomore guard is second on the team in scoring with a 15.2 average and is second nationally in free throw shooting at .933.
Littlejohn was sensational in his second career start. He went 6-of-10 from the field and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. D.J. Cunningham pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds with eight of them being on the offensive end. Meyer dished out seven assists.
Saturday's game was Senior Day and all three of Asheville's seniors started. Walk-on guard Josh Seligson made his first career start and played well in a career-high eight minutes. He scored the first basket of the game, had two steals, grabbed two rebounds and had one blocked shot.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Wednesday night when they host Presbyterian College at Kimmel Arena starting at 7 p.m.