ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville placed five players in double figures as part of an efficient offensive performance to hand Charleston Southern a 91-73 loss on Wednesday at Kimmel Arena.
Asheville (17-7, 9-2 Big South) led 44-34 at halftime and pushed its advantage to 19 points with 9:04 left by sinking 11 of its first 17 second half shots. Junior forward Ahmad Thomas led the way with 25 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. The Bulldogs assisted 19 of their 31 made field goals and led by as many as 23, holding onto a share of first place in the Big South in the process.
CSU (7-15, 3-8 Big South) put forth a solid offensive showing in its own right but could not find a way to slow down Asheville's potent attack. The Bucs shot 48 percent from the field and placed five players in double digits as well, paced by 14 each from Cortez Mitchell, Armel Potter and Christian Keeling. Twenty turnovers, however, proved costly as Asheville racked up a 21-7 edge in points off turnovers.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh knew his team would have to play its very best to have an opportunity to knock off a hot Asheville squad. The Bucs will head back to work in preparation for a visit from Presbyterian on Saturday.
"Tons of credit to Asheville because they're a very good basketball team," Radebaugh said. "They really know how to play the game. They move well, they pass it well and are just a real challenge to defend with the number of threats they throw at you."
"We've just got to stay positive and keep moving forward," Radebaugh continued. "There's a lot of season still in front of us so with a young group we're just going to keep focusing on getting better every day. It's back to work tomorrow and we'll keep grinding to figure it out."
Potter drove for a layup to bring CSU within nine about two minutes into the second stanza but Asheville kicked its offense into full gear to pull away. The Bulldogs entered play leading the league in three-point shooting, assists and turnover margin and put all that on display in their fourth straight win. David Robertson buried three three-pointers, and Raekwon Miller added another, over a four minute span that sent the Asheville cushion from 48-37 to 67-48.
CSU staged a mini-run to close the gap to 76-62 on a Javis Howard inside score with 7:04 left, but could get no closer. Robertson drilled another triple, Thomas drilled a turn-around jumper and knocked down two free throws to push the lead north of 20 for the first time at the 4:38 mark. The Bulldogs would take their biggest advantage, 91-68, on Alec Wunuk's layup with 1:11 remaining.
CSU returns home to play Presbyterian College on Saturday. The Bucs will be bidding for their 12th consecutive win in the series. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is slated for 5:30 p.m.