CHARLESTON, S.C. – UNC Asheville outscored College of Charleston 13-4 in overtime as the Bulldogs gave first-year coach Nick McDevitt his first win with a thrilling 67-58 victory Friday night at TD Arena.
Asheville (1-2) was led by a game-high 23 points from freshman guard Andrew Rowsey. Jaron Lane added 13 points, all in the second half. D.J. Cunningham finished with his second straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He blocked six shots.
“I’m really proud of our guys tonight to come here tonight and find a way to win,” stated McDevitt. “Our zone defense did a great job throughout the game. We built a good lead, let it get away in the second half but got the job done in overtime. We showed a lot of heart and courage.”
The Bulldogs played Friday’s game without sophomore forward Will Weeks. He missed the game due to a knee injury.
“Everyone who played contributed tonight,” added McDevitt. “We got big plays from everyone and that’s what you have to have when you play a good team on the road.”
Cougar forward Willis Hall hit a three-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 54-54. Asheville tried to get the win but couldn’t get a shot off as the buzzer sounded.
The Bulldogs quickly took control in overtime as Cunningham scored the first four points to put the visitors in front 58-54.
Leading 58-56, Asheville got three stops on the defensive end to keep the lead. Rowsey hit a 15-footer with 1:28 left to push the lead to 60-56.
Asheville went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minute of play to seal the win. Rowsey went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs led from start to finish in the first half. Rowsey had 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the half to give Asheville a 21-8 lead at the 9:24 mark.
Charleston could get no closer than eight the rest of the half. The Bulldogs led 31-21 at halftime as it limited the Cougars to just eight field goals and one 3-pointer.
In the second half, Charleston went on a 16-2 run over a seven-minute stretch to take a 42-39 lead with 11:12 left. The Cougars hit two treys and got four offensive rebound buckets to take the three-point lead.
But the Bulldogs rallied as the lead would go back-and-forth before two free throws from Lane put Asheville on top 51-49 with 5:53 remaining.
Lane then hit his first three-pointer of the season at the 3:30 mark to give the Dogs 54-49 lead.
But Asheville would not score again in regulation as the Cougars would get the trey from Hall to send the game into overtime.
Cunningham would get seven of his 10 rebounds in the final eight minutes of regulation and overtime. It was his second straight double-double of the young season. The red-shirt senior center has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in all three of Asheville’s games.
UNC Asheville is back in action Monday night in the first round of the Preseason NIT as the Bulldogs travel to #4 Duke starting at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
D.J. Cunningham moved into second place on Asheville’s career blocked shot list. He now has 192 blocks and moved past C.J. Walker (190). Cunningham also has 585 career rebounds. He moved into 11th place on the career rebounding last at Asheville and needs just seven to move past Chad Mohn (591) into 10th place.
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey led all scorers with 23 points. He scored 24 at Western Carolina Monday night. Rowsey is the first freshman guard for the Bulldogs in 10 years to score back-to-back games with 20 points or more. K.J. Garland was the last Asheville rookie to accomplish that.
First-year coach Nick McDevitt becomes the first Asheville coach to win his first game on the road. The previous five coaches all had their first wins at home.
Asheville blocked a season-high 12 shots. That’s the most blocked shots by a Bulldog team since blocking 13 against Montreat in the 2009-10 season.
The overtime win was the Bulldogs first since defeating Winthrop on the road, 83-78 on Dec. 31, 2011.