ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville women’s basketball team is back at home Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs host defending Big South Conference champion Liberty at Kimmel Arena starting at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s game can be heard on WPEK (880-AM) Radio with the pre-game show starting at 1:55 p.m. Fans can also watch the contest for free on the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville will try and bounce back today after a frustrating 71-66 home loss to High Point Thursday night at Kimmel Arena. The Bulldogs get another tough test this afternoon from defending Big South Conference champion Liberty. The Lady Flames are in first place again after a thrilling 77-70 overtime victory at Winthrop Thursday night. LU trailed by 15 in the first half before taking charge of the game in the second half. They allowed Winthrop to tie the game at the buzzer but dominated overtime.
Asheville (7-10, 4-4 BSC) battled from an eight-point second-half deficit to the Panthers to take the lead with four minutes before High Point regained the lead. The Bulldogs had a couple of chances to tie the game late with three-pointers but just missed. Paige Love led Asheville with 19 points, while Shonese Jones chipped in 11 points.
The Lady Flames continue to be the pace-setter in the Big South Conference. LU (11-6, 7-1 BSC) has posted five straight wins after losing at High Point, 75-70 on Dec. 30. Liberty is led by sophomore center Ashley Rininger with a 16.4 scoring average. They are absolutely dominating on the glass as the Lady Flames are out-rebounding their opponent by a staggering 15.5 rebounds per game. Rininger averages 10.4 rebounds per game and is shooting 58 percent from the field. You won’t see a taller team at Kimmel Arena this season as LU boasts four players 6-2 or above and three players, 6-4 and above. A tough early-season schedule saw Liberty lose its first four games, but the Lady Flames have rebounded to win 11 of their last 13 contests.
Brittany Gwyn and Paige Love share the scoring lead for the Bulldogs with a 9.9 average. Love tops the club in rebounding with a 5.1 mark. Tianna Knuckles is averaging 9.4 points per game, while Shonese Jones is at 9.0.
This rapidly-improving UNC Asheville program has taken down a lot of streaks this season, and they’d like to take care of another one today. The Bulldogs have not beaten Liberty in Asheville since the 1996-97 season. Liberty has won the last 16 meetings between the teams in the Asheville, both at Justice Center and Kimmel Arena. The Lady Flames have been the dominant team in the Big South Conference during that time. Liberty has won 15 of the last 17 BSC championships and has gone 37-1 vs. the Bulldogs over that period. Asheville’s last win over Liberty was on Feb. 24, 2007 at the Vines Center when the eventual BSC champs edged the Lady Flames, 54-51.
The Bulldogs hit the road this Thursday night for a league game at Coastal Carolina starting at 7 p.m. Asheville returns home next Sunday (Jan. 26) afternoon for a rare Sunday league game. The Bulldogs will go for the season-sweep of Charleston Southern at Kimmel Arena starting at 2 p.m.
UNC Asheville has won three of its last five games.
The Bulldogs are 3-1 on the road in BSC play but just 1-3 inside Kimmel Arena.
Five of Asheville’s last six games have been decided by seven points or less.
Sophomore guard Paige Love has been on fire over the past four games and she had another great game on Thursday night vs. High Point. Love scored 19 points against the Panthers and grabbed seven rebounds. In the past four games, Paige has averaged 16 points and 6.7 rebounds. In the last three games, Love has averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game.
Freshman guard Tianna Knuckles has scored in double figures in six of the last nine games.
Sophomore forward Leah Wormack now leads the Big South Conference in free throw percentage at .827 (43-of-52). She has connected on 27 of her last 29 free throws.
The Bulldogs are second in the league in free throw percentage at .727.
Freshman center KJ Weaver is fourth in the Big South in blocked shots with 27 (1.59 per game mark).