ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville women’s basketball team is on the road this weekend as the Bulldogs take on Southeastern Conference power Vanderbilt Saturday morning starting at 11:30 a.m. CST.
Asheville (4-6) looks to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday but it won’t be easy against a Commodores squad that is 9-2 on the season and won six straight games after edging James Madison in overtime, 89-85 on Wednesday night.
Second-year coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick is familiar with playing at Memorial Gym as she was an assistant at Florida for five years before coming to Asheville.
“We are excited for the opportunity to see how we measure up against one of the most respected programs in the country,” stated Kirkpatrick. “Vanderbilt plays with tremendous heart and confidence in addition to be talented. As an assistant coach at Florida, we faced Vandy many times, and I have always had a lot of respect for Coach (Melanie) Balcomb and her program.”
The Bulldogs fell to MEAC power North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, 83-57. The Aggies used a late run at the end of the first half and start of second half to put the game away. Freshman Tianna Knuckles scored a career-high 15 points and career-best eight rebounds on Tuesday. Leah Wormack went 13-of-14 from the free throw line and added 13 points.
After Saturday’s game, Asheville gets a few days off the holidays before returning home to Kimmel Arena for a three-game homestand, all against Big South Conference opponents. The homestand begins with a regionally televised game vs. Gardner-Webb (Dec. 28), Presbyterian College (Dec. 30) and Winthrop (Jan. 2).
Brittany Gwyn leads the Asheville scoring average with an 11.0 mark. Knuckles has moved into second place in scoring with an 8.8 average.
Junior forward Jeannie Buckner is the Bulldogs top rebounder with a 5.8 average. Sophomore guard Paige Love tops the club in assists with 29.
Junior guard Brittany Gwyn currently leads the Big South in free throw percentage with a mark of .850. She has connected on 34-of-40 free throw attempts this season. Gwyn enters the Vanderbilt game with a streak of making 12 straight free throws.
The Bulldogs have out-rebounded seven of their first 10 opponents.
Asheville has led at halftime in seven games this year but has trailed in the past two contests.
The teams have met once and that came in the 2000-01 season with Vandy winning, 107-51 at Memorial Gym.
Asheville’s last game against a Southeastern Conference team came on Jan. 3, 2008 with the Bulldogs falling at South Carolina, 80-52.
Sophomore forward Leah Wormack is fourth in the Big South in blocks, averaging 1.5 per game.
Freshman guard Ja’Da Brayboy is fifth in the Big South in steals, averaging 1.9 per contest. She’s posted a total of 19 in 10 games this year.