Editor's Note: UNC Asheville Athletics Communications Director Mike Gore will be blogging as the men's basketball is on the road for the next eight days as the Bulldogs play Ohio State, Northeastern and St. John's. Here is the fourth blog after UNC Asheville's win at Northeastern.
Today is a long day but a memorable one as the Bulldogs pick up their first road win of the season.
For the second straight game, we're playing at Noon. We're going to head to New York for our game at St. John's on Friday. However, we are coming back to the hotel after the game and because we're bussing to New York, there's not the pressure of last Saturday of having to catch a plane.
I'm anxious to see Matthews Arena, the home of Northeastern basketball. It's the oldest multi-purpose sport facility in the United States. Matthews Arena was the first home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. The building is 102 years old and is older than Fenway Park.
We get to the arena about 10:25 a.m. and our bus suddenly is surrounded by other busses. Northeastern has invited local elementary schools to come to the game and it's like they all came at one time. We're supposed to park in the back but there's no way we can get there. Our bus driver just lets us off and we make our way through hundreds of kids to get to our locker room. There's a lot of enthusiasm and noise as we enter the arena and should make for some fun atmosphere today.
I'm solo on radio today. Matthews Arena has a press box so I won't be sitting next to the bench like I normally do. We're elevated which gives a different view of the game. There's no problem with the Ethernet line, and I'm all set up an hour before broadcast.
Before the game starts, there's a moment of silence for the victims of Sandy Hook. You can hear a pin drop as Sandy Hook is just a few hours south of here.
The first part of the game is controlled by Northeastern. The Huskies best player Jonathan Lee has been out the whole season but is back today. He scored 25 points against us two years ago.
But we hang in there with a good team effort and get some good balanced scoring. We take the lead late in the first half and lead 31-29 at halftime.
In the second half, we take over the game. Northeastern plays a 3-2 zone that we don't see very often. However, our guys have worked hard for the past two days and it shows. We have great passing as Jon Nwannunu and Will Weeks score inside. Jeremy Atkinson is making his usual tough shots in traffic. D.J. Cunningham is blocking shots and getting rebounds.
We build a 14-point lead with four minutes left and it looks like we're home free. But quickly Northeastern roars back. Joel Smith, the Huskies leading scorer, gets hot and has 17 points in the second half. He starts hitting treys, and we're having some trouble with their press. Suddenly the lead is down to six with less than a minute left. But we get some big offensive rebounds from Keith Hornsby and Atkinson and finally, Smith misses a trey that would have made it a 3-point game.
We end up winning, 79-73. Atkinson finishes with 21 points. Nwannunu scores a career-high 16 points and goes 8-of-11 from the field. D.J. blocks five more shots and has 12 in the last three games.
We're a happy bunch as we head to New York. On the way out of Boston, we see Fenway Park from the interstate and that's always nice to see. For most of our guys, it's the first time they've ever seen one of baseball's most famous parks. It brings back great memories for me as my wife Lisa and I have been there twice and had a great time. It's a fun trip so far but I miss her a whole bunch and can't wait to see her on Saturday.
We make good time to New York and get to the hotel about 8:30 p.m. We have dinner across the street at a genuine New York-style pizza place. Everyone is in a great mood.
Tomorrow, we're getting up early to go to Ground Zero. We're going to take the subway there so that should be exciting.
I'll have another blog tomorrow about our first day in the Big Apple!! Go Bulldogs.