ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville women’s basketball team opens the 2013-14 season Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs host Southern Conference foe Furman at Kimmel Arena starting at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s game can be heard on WPEK Radio (880-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 1:55 p.m. The game can also be seen for free at the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville begins its second season under head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. The Bulldogs suffered through an injury-marred 2012-13 year and went 2-28. Asheville hopes to be much improved this season.
The Paladins went 12-18 a year ago but return four starters from last year’s club and should be much better, as well.
"We have been working hard and looking forward to an opportunity to play this game since last spring when our season ended. We know that Furman will present a great challenge but this team is ready,” stated Kirkpatrick. “Jackie Carson (Furman head coach) does a great job with her team and they have many talented pieces.
“We have nine returners and four of those kids missed a good portion of last season due to injury. I am extremely proud of their efforts in the off season to rejoin their team on the court,” added Kirkpatrick. “We have four freshmen who will be playing in their first collegiate game on Saturday. We are excited for those newcomers to start putting their fingerprints on this program as well. This is a highly anticipated season for us as we build something these young ladies can be proud of. UNC Asheville basketball will be about team this season. We have been on a journey and Saturday presents another opportunity for growth.”
The Bulldogs have everyone back who was hurt last year. Asheville welcomes back junior guard Shonese Jones, junior guard Brittany Gwyn, and sophomore forward Leah Wormack and sophomore guard Tacey Trammel. All four missed most of last season and all were key player for the Bulldogs in the 2011-12 season with Jones being named Big South Freshman of the Year with Wormack making the Big South All-Freshman team.
Asheville and Furman last met on the hardwood two years ago in Greenville with the Paladins rallying for a 71-59 victory. This is not Furman’s first trip to Kimmel Arena. The Paladins have played here the last two seasons in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament.
NOTING THE BULLDOGS
UNC Asheville is looking for its first opening day win since the 2011-12 when the Bulldogs won their opener against Winston-Salem State, 83-74.
The Bulldogs were a preseason pick to finish in 11th place in this year’s Big South Conference race. Asheville opens BSC play at Charleston Southern on Dec. 3.
Asheville plays four of its first six games of the year at Kimmel Arena.
Junior guard Shonese Jones enters the season with 714 career points and has a solid chance of reaching 1,000 career points this year.
Junior guard Brittany Gwyn will play in the first game of the season for the first time in her career. As a freshman, she was out with a mouth injury. Last season, she missed the opening game due to a knee injury.
A bright spot from last year’s club was the Bulldogs’ defense. Asheville allowed just 66.3 points per game last season compared to 74.8 the previous year.