LEXINGTON, Va. - Jeremy Atkinson and Keith Hornsby scored 24 points each as UNC Asheville picked up its seventh straight win with a hard-fought 90-79 Big South Conference road win over VMI Friday night at Cameron Hall.
The Bulldogs trailed 62-59 midway through the second half but dominated the final 10 minutes of the game to pick up the victory. Asheville (15-10, 9-2 BSC) is now 14-3 in its last 17 Big South Conference road games.
Atkinson enjoyed his fourth straight with 20 points or more and picked up his fifth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. Hornsby had 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists. He went 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Freshman forward Will Week added 19 points, 16 in the second half. He had four assists and was 7-of-11 from the field. Trent Meyer added 17 points, three assists and three steals.
"This is a great, great win," stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We really got a nice performance from everyone who played tonight. We've still got room to improve and work to do but we're getting better. Tonight was big win."
VMI (11-11, 6-4 BSC) was led by Stan Okoye with 34 points and 16 rebounds. D.J. Covington added 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The Keydets led 62-59 when the Bulldogs took control with 11:26 remaining. The visitors went on a 9-0 sprint to suddenly take a 68-62 lead. Hornsby's three-point lead put the Dogs in front for good, and Weeks finished the run with four straight points.
Leading 71-66 with 7:24 when Weeks took over. The freshman forward scored eight straight points on four consecutive possessions to push the Asheville lead to 79-66. Hornsby hit two free throws on the next possession and the Bulldogs led 81-66 with 4:30 left.
"Will Weeks really sparked us in the second half," stated Biednebach. "He made some great moves around the basket and did a nice job finishing."
VMI tried to rally and closed to 84-77 with 1:41 left on an Okoye dunk. But the Bulldogs were able to 6-for-6 from the free throw line as Atkinson hit four straight, followed by two from Hornsby.
The victory was Asheville's sixth straight at Cameron Hall. The Bulldogs are 33-4 in their last 37 games against Big South opponents. The Blue & White is a perfect 6-0 against North Division opponents this season. Asheville has 22 straight games against teams from the North Division over the last three seasons.
VMI got off to a hot start, as the Keydets made five of their first six field goals, including a trio of three-pointers by Brown, to race out to a 13-9 lead just over three minutes into the game. That advantage grew to six at the 14:53 mark, as Okoye hit a jumper, but Asheville scored seven of the game's next nine points to cut it to one, 19-18.
That set the stage for the rest of the half, where neither team would have more than a six-point lead. All told, there were four ties and seven lead changes as the teams battled back and forth. The last of those swaps came with 3:23 left in the half, as Atkinson scored to put the visitors up, 37-36. Asheville pushed that lead out to six, 42-36, with 1:47 on the clock, but the Keydets finished the half on a 7-2 run and went into halftime down one, 44-43.
The first half was marked by two stats, second chance points and points off turnovers. The Keydets' hot shooting (17 of 35, 48.6%) helped them overcome 11 first half miscues, while a 24-12 rebounding edge helped VMI post 17 second chance points. Asheville took advantage of the VMI turnovers, however, to score 17 points off turnovers and lead by one despite Okoye's 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Keydets came out well in the second half, scoring seven of the first 11 points to go up by four, 51-47. That lead grew to five at the 16:47 mark, but it would go no higher.
UNC Asheville begins a two-game homestand at Kimmel Arena on Wednesday night when the Bulldogs host Gardner-Webb starting at 7 p.m. The game will be televised regionally by WMYA (TV40). Tickets can be obtained at www.uncabulldogs.com.
Jeremy Atkinson has scored 20 or more points in four straight games. He has scored in double figures in 32 of the last 33 games.
Keith Hornsby has hit 18 straight free throws. He has scored in double figures in 16 of the last 17 games.
VMI held a 47-37 advantage on the boards. This is the just the second time Asheville has won despite being out-rebounded. The other victory came at Northeastern.
The crowd at Cameron Hall was 4,117. It was the ninth biggest crowd in Cameron Hall history.
Asheville hit a season-high nine 3-pointers. The Bulldogs shot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc for the second time in three games. Asheville was 9-of-17 for .529 percent.