MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The UNC Asheville women’s basketball team will play again Thursday at Noon when the eighth-seeded Bulldogs take on regular-season champion High Point in the quarterfinals of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference basketball championships at Noon.
Thursday’s game can be seen for free on the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville advanced to the quarterfinals with a dramatic 43-42 victory over Radford in Tuesday’s first round. Shonese Jones tapped in a missed shot as the buzzer sounded giving the Bulldogs their first Big South Tournament win since the 2007 championship game.
“We’re very happy to advance in the tournament,” stated second-year coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “I’m really proud of the way we battled on Tuesday and found a way to win. We had a tough day shooting but we found a way to grind it out on defense and with our rebounding.”
The Bulldogs (11-19) have turned their attention to the Panthers (20-9). High Point won the regular-season title and enjoyed an outstanding season. Asheville and HPU played two close games this year with the Panthers winning 71-66 at Kimmel Arena on Jan. 16 and edging the Bulldogs, 82-75 on Feb. 22.
“High Point has a very good team and will be tough to beat,” explained Kirkpatrick. “We had two really close games with them this year and hopefully we can find a way to win on Thursday.”
Jones is Asheville’s leading scorer with a 10.3 average. She is shooting 90 percent (54-of-60) from the free throw line. Freshman guard Tianna Knuckles is averaging 9.5 points per game. Paige Love is averaging 9.4 points per outing and is the school’s top rebounder with a 5.1 average.
The Bulldogs have stopped a lot of frustrating streaks this year but they have one they’d like to stop with High Point. The Panthers have won the last 11 meetings between the teams and hold a 32-11 series advantage.
Tuesday’s win for Asheville over Radford was the Bulldogs first tourney win since the 2007 Big South Conference championship game at Justice Center when Asheville defeated Radford, 67-57. The win ended a six-game Bulldog losing streak in tourney action.
Asheville is 1-2 vs. High Point in the Big South Tournament. The Bulldogs lost in the quarterfinals to the Panthers in 2006 and 2009. Both games were at High Point. Asheville’s one win came in the 2005 semifinals of the tournament.
The Bulldogs are just 4-21 in quarterfinal action. However, the last three times Asheville has won a quarterfinal game (1998, 2005, 2007), the Bulldogs have advanced to the Big South Conference championship game.
The Bulldogs’ 43 points on Tuesday against Radford was a season-low. Asheville is now 2-11 when it scores below 59 points.
Asheville ended a six-game losing streak in neutral court games. The Bulldogs last neutral court win was a 50-43 victor over Lafayette on Dec. 30, 2009.
Freshman guard Tianna Knuckles has scored in double figures in three of the last four games.
Shonese Jones has made 29 straight free throws. She has not missed since missing a free throw vs. High Point on Jan. 16. The school record is 35 straight set by Kristy Hancock in the 1990-91 season.
The Bulldogs are 11-25 all-time at the Big South Tournament, winning one title in 2007 and finishing runner-up in 1998 and 2005.
Freshman center KJ Weaver is fourth in the Big South Conference in blocked shots with 46. It’s the second most blocked shots for a freshman since Wendy Beecher blocked 60 in the 1986-87 season.
Red-shirt sophomore forward Leah Wormack missed the last two games of the regular season with a hand injury. She played with a cast on Tuesday though she did not start. Wormack finished with six points and seven rebounds against the Highlanders in 24 minutes of action.