ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Jaron Lane scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds as UNC Asheville ended the regular season with a hard-fought 83-71 Big South Conference victory over Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon.
The win allowed the Bulldogs (16-14, 10-6 BSC) to secure a bye in next week’s Big South Conference championship. Asheville will play in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Friday against an opponent and a time to be determined. The Bulldogs finished in second place in the South Division, one game behind Coastal Carolina.
Sophomore guard David Robertson added 15 points, while senior center D.J. Cunningham chipped in 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots. Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Gardner-Webb (17-14, 10-6 BSC) was led by Tyler Strange with 16 points. Naji Hibbert chipped in 15 points. Jerome Hill just missed a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Lane hit his first 10 shots of the game and finished 10-of-13 from the field. He was a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc
Asheville took control of the game early in the second half. Leading 46-45, the Bulldogs went on a 16-2 run to increase the lead to 62-47. Lane had seven points for the Blue & White during the run.
Lane’s final trey with 9:18 left put the Dogs in front 72-56. Gardner-Webb rallied to cut the lead to 10 points late in the game but Asheville’s Corey Littlejohn hit four straight free throws to help ice the win and give the Bulldogs the victory.
In the first half, Gardner-Webb built an early 24-19 lead behind seven points from Hibbert. The Bulldogs responded with seven straight points to take the lead 26-24 on Rowsey’s first trey of the game.
Asheville would settle for a 36-35 halftime lead as the Bulldogs had a 12-2 advantage on second-chance points.
The Bulldogs shot 50 percent (9-of-18) from the three-point line. Gardner-Webb shot 43 percent (9-of-21) from beyond the arc.
UNC Asheville finishes the season with 10 Big South Conference wins for the seventh straight year…Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in a Big South-leading 27 straight games…Jaron Lane has scored 20 points or more in five consecutive games…D.J. Cunningham had his ninth double-double of the season and blocked eight shots, tying a career-high for the fifth-year senior…Asheville is 24-4 against Big South Conference opponents at Kimmel Arena…Lane has 1,246 career points and moved into 17th place on Asheville’s career scoring list…the Bulldogs went 15-7 after starting the season 1-7.