ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team hopes to snap a two-game losing streak Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs make their first visit to Longwood in close to 30 years. Tip-off at Willett Hall is at 5 p.m.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 4:30 p.m. Fans can also watch the game for free on the Big South Digital Network under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville (10-11, 4-3 BSC) fell to VMI on Tuesday in one of the highest scoring games of the season, 109-105. The Bulldogs received 35 points from Andrew Rowsey and a career-high in points from Jaron Lane (27) and rebounds (15). Tuesday’s loss came at Kimmel Arena and was Asheville’s first league home loss of the year.
“We had plenty of offense but we fell into playing like VMI does and things didn’t work out,” stated first-year coach Nick McDevitt. “Obviously we didn’t get too many defensive stops in the game and that cost us dearly. We’ll learn from this game and move on to the next one.”
And McDevitt expects a tough game from Longwood. The Lancers (7-15, 2-5 BSC) gave the Bulldogs nothing but fits last season. Asheville squeaked by Longwood at home, 69-66 on three late free throws and some key stops. But the Lancers ended the Bulldogs reign as Big South champions in the first round of the league tournament with a decisive 87-72 victory at Coastal Carolina. Asheville could never get untracked on defense as Longwood made its Big South Tournament debut a memorable one with the triumph.
“The last time we played Longwood was not a good experience,” commented McDevitt. “We barely beat them in the regular season, and they took us out in the Big South Tournament. They’ve got a good team with some players who can put some points up in a hurry.”
Longwood knocked off Liberty at home last week, 69-66 and then stunned Charleston Southern on the road last Saturday, 88-85. They fell at home to a hot-shooting Gardner-Webb squad on Wednesday, 82-62.
“Longwood had a tough night on Wednesday with Gardner-Webb but they knocked off the defending conference champions (Liberty) and last year’s regular-season champs (Charleston Southern) in back-to-back games,” said McDevitt. “That right there tells you what a good team they have. We’re going to a place we’ve never played before so we’ll have to make some adjustments.”
Asheville’s last visit to Longwood came in the 1985-86 season. The Bulldog program was a NCAA Division II member and transitioning to Division I and played the Lancers twice that year. Asheville edged Longwood on the road, 65-62 and then won at Justice Center, 61-52. The Bulldogs were coached by Jerry Green in those games.
The Bulldogs return home to Kimmel Arena next week for two games as they’ll face North Division leader Campbell Wednesday at 7 p.m., followed by a date with Liberty Saturday at 2 pm.
UNC Asheville is 20-10 in its last 30 Big South Conference road games. The Bulldogs are 2-2 this season on the road in league play.
After winning 22 straight games against North Division teams, Asheville has lost its last three against the North. The streak began at last year’s Big South Tournament when Longwood ambushed the Bulldogs, 87-72 and continued this past week with a loss at High Point and at home to VMI.
Andrew Rowsey has scored a freshman-record 35 points in two games this month. He tallied 35 at Charleston Southern on Jan. 18 and had 35 against VMI on Tuesday. He becomes the first Bulldog player to score more than 30 points in more than one game during a season since Kevin Martin did it three times in the 1998-99 campaign.
Senior center D.J. Cunningham became the school’s Division I all-time leader in rebounds on Tuesday when he grabbed 13 and increased his career total to 715. He leads the Big South in rebounding with a 10.1 average. In addition, D.J. has moved into second place on the school’s all-time list for blocked shots. Cunningham has 237 career blocks and has a chance to become the school’s all-time leader. Former teammate John Williams is the all-time leader 255. He is one of two players in the Big South to record more than 700 rebounds and 200 blocked shots. His 3.6 per game has him fifth nationally in that category.
The Bulldogs lead the Big South Conference in free throw percentage at .744.
Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in 20 of Ashevile’s 21 games. He has scored in double figures in a Big South-leading 17 straight games. He leads the Dogs in scoring with a 17.9 average.
Four of the Bulldogs seven BSC games have been decided by four points or less.
Senior forward Jaron Lane has scored at least 20 points in the last three games.