ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team plays its final regular-season road game of the year Wednesday when the Bulldogs travel to South Division rival Winthrop starting at 7 p.m.
Wednesday’s game can be seen via for free at the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com. An audio broadcast will also be available at uncabulldogs.com.
The stakes don’t get much higher than Wednesday’s game at Winthrop. Asheville (15-13, 9-5 BSC) is in a three-way tie for first place in the Big South’s Southern Division with Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs need a win to stay in first place but it will not be easy against a dangerous Eagle (15-12, 8-6) club that is just a game behind Asheville.
Nick McDevitt’s hopes his club can build on the momentum of Saturday’s 100-85 win over Coastal Carolina at Kimmel Arena. The Bulldogs were led by Jaron Lane’s 25 points but received a big boost from their bench in the win. Asheville’s bench contributed 33 points in the victory, and held the lead when Coastal Carolina was rallying in the second half as three Bulldog starters were on the bench with four fouls.
“Saturday was a great win for our program,” stated McDevitt. “We played hard for 40 minutes and got great contributions from everyone who played. This was truly a team effort, and we needed that to beat a team the caliber of Coastal Carolina.”
As great as the Coastal Carolina win was, the Bulldogs have a stiff challenge in Rock Hill against Winthrop. The Eagles have won five of their last seven games and are also in the mix to finish in first place in the South Division. Asheville won earlier this year against Winthrop at Kimmel Arena, 81-66. The Bulldogs were routed last year in Rock Hill, 70-61 in the final regular-season game of the season.
“It’s always tough to win at Winthrop, and Wednesday will be no different,” commented McDevitt. “Winthrop plays tough defense and makes nothing easy for you. We’ve got to be ready to battle and compete for 40 minutes.”
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with a 19.6 average. His 22.9 league average tops the Big South. Senior forward Jaron Lane is averaging 15.4 points per game and scored at least 20 points in six of the last 10 contests. Senior center D.J. Cunningham is Asheville’s third leading scorer at 11.0 points per game. He continues to lead the Big South in rebounding (9.3) and blocked shots (3.6). His 3.6 block average is fourth best nationally.
Winthrop leads the all-time series, 34-32. The Bulldogs have a 13-18 record against the Eagles in Rock Hill but are just 5-12 in their last 17 trips to the Winthrop Coliseum. Asheville’s last win came here two years ago on Dec. 31, 2011 when the Bulldogs slipped past the Eagles, 73-68 in overtime.
UNC Asheville is 14-6 since beginning the season 1-7.
The Bulldogs are 3-4 in league road games this season, winning those three games by a total of nine points. Asheville is 22-12 in its last 34 games against league opponents on the road.
Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in a Big South-leading 24 straight games. He has scored at least 23 points in six of his last eight games, including a 41-point performance at Radford (2-13). Rowsey flirted with a double-double on Saturday against Coastal Carolina with 17 points and a career-high nine rebounds.
Junior guard Corey Littlejohn has come off the bench to score in double figures in three of the last four games.
Senior center D.J. Cunningham is second in the Big South in double-doubles with eight. He did not play against the Eagles last time due to the flu. D.J. is now the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots. He enters the Winthrop game with 262 blocked shots. Cunningham is fourth all-time at Asheville in rebounding with 770 rebounds. He is just the second player in Big South history to record more than 200 blocks and 700 rebounds.
Asheville has won 15 overall games for the seventh straight year. The Bulldogs need one more BSC win to reach 10 league wins for the seventh consecutive season.
The Bulldogs have been out-rebounded in four of the last six games but went 3-1 in the games they were out-rebounded.
Andrew Rowsey has been named Big South Freshman of the Week five times this season. He has knocked down the second most three-pointers in school history with 87. Rowsey needs just six for the single-season record held by Josh Kohn (92) in the 1993-94 season.
The Bulldogs set a school record for made free throws in a game with 38 against Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
Asheville has been outscored in the second half in six of its last eight games. The Bulldogs have led at intermission in all 12 of their home games this season.
Asheville’s bench contributed a season-high 33 points on Saturday against Coastal Carolina. Walk-on guard Ethan Wilmoth played a career-high 21 minutes and his three-pointer late in the first half put the Bulldogs in front for good.