CONWAY, S.C. - UNC Asheville is in the Big South Conference Championship Game.
Led by their All-Conference guards and a stifling defense, Asheville advanced to Saturday's Big South Conference title game with a 62-45 victory over seventh-seeded High Point at Kimbel Arena.
The Bulldogs will face top-seeded Coastal Carolina Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. for the Big South Conference championship on the Chanticleers home court. CCU advanced to the title game with a hard-fought 89-81 victory over VMI.
Junior guard J.P. Primm led the Bulldogs (18-13) with 19 points, while Matt Dickey added 18 points and six assists as Asheville advanced to the title game for the first time since the 2008 season and seventh time in the program's history.
The Bulldogs' defense held High Point to just 19 points in the second. Asheville broke the game open with a 15-0 midway through the second half. The third-seeded Bulldogs went from leading 35-33 with 13:29 left to 49-33 with 5:58 remaining.
"I'm really proud of guys for finding a win to grind out this win," stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We battled and played great defense the entire evening. Our focus has been to play better defense the entire year and lately we've been doing that. Tonight was one of our best efforts of the season."
Asheville mixed its defenses during the 15-0 run as High Point missed 10 straight shots and two free throws during the Bulldog burst. John Williams led Asheville with six points, while Dickey added five points.
"Our defense was really good the whole night but it was just terrific in the second half," explained Biedenbach. "We also did a nice job rebounding. When High Point missed, we were able to get the defensive rebound."
Nick Barbour of High Point finished with a game-high 21 points.
The Bulldogs trailed 19-9 midway through the first half as the Bulldogs went ice cold from the field and High Point went on a 17-3 run. Barbour knocked down two straight treys to give the Panthers a 10-point lead.
But Asheville responded with 17-3 run of its own. Primm led the run with three treys as Asheville surged to a 26-22 lead. The Bulldogs settled for a 28-26 halftime lead.
Primm kept Asheville in the game in the first half with 13 points. He went 5-of-10 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs finished with a 36-31 rebounding advantage and out-scored the Panthers 28-20 in the paint. Asheville forced 14 HPU turnovers that resulted in 18 Asheville points.