ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville Bulldogs look to reach the Big South Conference Championship game tonight but a tough foe awaits them in the semifinals of the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship. Top-seeded Asheville hosts fourth-seeded Charleston Southern at Kimmel Arena this evening at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU and be on locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM).
Asheville roared into the semifinals of the tournament with a decisive 86-61 quarterfinal win over High Point last night at Kimmel Arena. The Bulldogs broke open a close game early in the second half and cruised into the semifinals for the sixth straight year. Asheville placed five players in double figures in the win with Chris Stephenson pacing the Dogs with 18 points. The winner of the Asheville-CSU semifinal game will take on the winner of the Winthrop-VMI semifinal game that will be played at 6 p.m., on Saturday at Noon in Big South Conference championship game.
Fourth-seeded Charleston Southern led from start to finish in an impressive 88-74 triumph over fifth-seeded Liberty on Wednesday. The Bucs led a 17-point lead slip to two before CSU went on a late 18-5 to propel them to the win. Saah Nimley led four Buccaneers in double digits with 19 points, including 4-of-8 threes. Arlon Harper added 18 points - 16 after intermission - and 3 steals. Big South defensive player of the year Kelvin Martin chipped in 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 steals.
Charleston Southern was the only BSC team to down Asheville at Kimmel Arena this year as on Jan. 19, the Bucs snapped a seven-game Bulldog winning streak with a 93-88 victory. The teams only meant once this season so Asheville's school-record 16 BSC wins did not include a victory over CSU this year. This is the second straight year the teams have played in the tourney with Asheville escaping with a 72-63 win at Justice Center in last year's quarterfinals.
This will be just the fifth time the teams have played in Big South Tournament play but second consecutive year. Asheville edged CSU 72-63 at Justice Center in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs hope to break through against the Bucs in semifinal play. CSU is 2-0 against Asheville in semifinal action, including a 67-57 win over the top-seeded Bulldogs in 1997 at Liberty. The teams are 2-2 against each other all-time.