CHARLESTON, S.C. – Senior forward Kelli Riles recorded her eighth double-double of the season and freshman guard Paige Love tied a career-high in points, but a slow start in the first half caught up with UNC Asheville, as the Bulldogs fell to Charleston Southern, 73-59, on Thursday evening at the Buc Dome in Big South Conference action.
“Tonight was another situation, where we have to put two halves of basketball together, and we didn’t,” said Asheville head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “It took us a while to get things going offensively and we didn’t do enough things defensively to stop Charleston Southern. We need to play a full 40 minutes to win, especially on the road.”
The Bulldogs (2-17, 0-8 BSC) trailed by as much as 21 points in the game, but mounted a furious comeback in the second half that saw the Blue & White cut the lead seven points with just over four minutes to play. However, the Lady Bucs finished the contest on an 11-4 run to seal the victory.
With the win CSU improves to 6-11 on the season, with a 1-7 mark in the Big South.
Riles finished the game with a team-best 20 points and game-high 18 rebounds. Love scored 18 for the Bulldogs, all in the second half.
The Lady Bucs were led by D.J. Fowler, who posted 20 points in the contest. Lakeitha Alston scored 18, Shay Jones scored 14 and Erin Bratcher scored 12 for CSU, with Fowler leading all players in assists with five.
Asheville entered halftime trailing 28-16 after the Lady Bucs connected on 41 percent of their shots from the floor. The Bulldogs struggled shooting the ball in the early part of the frame but was able to cut the CSU lead to 20-16 on a Riles layup with 2:05 to go, but the Lady Bucs finished the half on an 8-2 run.
The Lady Bucs would start the second half on a 14-5 run, pushing their lead to 42-21 with 15:13 left to play. Asheville would claw its way back into the game over the next 10 minutes, outscoring CSU 34-20 to cut the lead to seven at 62-55 with 4:02 on the clock.
A pair of 3-pointers by CSU’s Bratcher and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Fowler extended the Lady Bucs lead over the course of the next two minutes, effectively ending the comeback attempt by the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will back in action on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to take on Big South foe Coastal Carolina. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m., and the game can be seen live on ESPN3.com in most markets.