ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Big South-leading Presbyterian College placed three players in double figures and held off a determined UNC Asheville comeback as the Blue Hose held on for a 56-49 victory over the Bulldogs Thursday night at Kimmel Arena.
Asheville (2-15, 0-6 BSC) was led by Kelli Riles with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. Brittany Gwyn added 10 points and four assists for the Bulldogs. Riles moved into sixth place on the Big South all-time career list for rebounds. She now has 924 career rebounds as she moved past Radford's Carrie Fertitta who had 915 in her career. It was Riles sixth double-double of the season.
PC (11-7, 6-1 BSC) was led by Karlee Taylor with 13 points, while Dria David and Mariah Pietrowski added 12 points each. The Blue Hose moved back into first place as co-leader Liberty lost to High Point earlier on Thursday.
The Bulldogs trailed 34-16 at halftime and 49-30 with nine minutes to go before roaring back. Asheville held the Blue Hose scoreless for five minutes and scored 10 straight points to close to 49-40 at the four-minute mark. Riles led the comeback with the final eight points of the run.
The home team had two chances to get even closer but could not get some shots to drop. PC led 51-42 before Gwyn knocked down a jumper to close to 51-44. The Bulldogs kept scoring but the Blue Hose went 5-of-6 from the free throw line to hold off the Asheville charge.
Presbyterian College used red-hot shooting in the first half and suffocating defense to take control of the game. The Blue Hose shot .609 (14-of-23) from the field and made 3-of-4 three-pointers to take a 34-16 halftime lead. Pietrowski and Taylor scored eight points each for the visitors.
Asheville shot just .185 (5-of-27) from the field in the opening half. Riles led the Bulldogs with six points and seven rebounds.
"We let Presbyterian set the tone in the first half with its aggressiveness and it just took us out of everything we did," stated Asheville coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. "We did a great job battling back in the second half both offensively and defensively and if a couple shots go down we would have really had a chance in the final minutes.
"We're getting better, and we're making progress," added Kirkpatrick. "If we could have started better tonight, it would have been a different game. Give Presbyterian credit. They're a very well-coached team that plays great defense and knows what it is doing."
Asheville was without leading scorer Shonese Jones for the final 19 minutes of the game as she went down early in the second half with an apparent knee injury.
UNC Asheville finishes its three-game homestand against Big South Conference rival Gardner-Webb at Kimmel Arena starting at 2 p.m. Presbyterian College travels to Winthrop for a Saturday matinee at 1 p.m.