RADFORD, VA. – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team will take on top-seeded Radford Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2009 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Tournament at the Dedmon Center starting at 8 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU and broadcast on WISE Radio (1310-AM).
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (15-15) advanced to the semifinals with a hard-fought 76-68 victory over fifth-seeded Winthrop Tuesday night before an energized crowd of 1,008 at Justice Center. It marks the third straight year that UNC Asheville has gotten to the semifinals of the tournament.
The Bulldogs face a tough challenge with the regular-season champion Highlanders (19-11). Radford beat Asheville twice this season and both were close games. The Highlanders edged the Bulldogs 98-88 in overtime on Jan. 10 in overtime and slipped past Asheville 66-65 at Justice Center on Feb. 24.
"We played well in both games, but Radford made big plays when it had to make them," commented Bulldog head coach Eddie Biedenbach. "I’ve thought from the start of the year that Radford would be very tough to beat in our league and that’s proven to be true. They have great size and know how to use it. We’re going to have to slow their inside game down and do a better job on the boards."
Biedenbach is proud of his young team for its performance against Winthrop. The Eagles beat the Bulldogs both times this year but Asheville led from start to finish on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs scored the first 14 points of the game and got 27 points from senior forward Reid Augst.
"We really came out and played well from the start against Winthrop," said Biedenbach. "We fought hard for 40 minutes, played good defense and did a great job on offense in the first half. I thought we should have finished the game better than we did but our effort was just sensational."
The winner of Thursday’s game will play in the championship game on Saturday at 4 p.m. against either second-seeded VMI or third-seeded Liberty. Those two teams will play at Radford starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the other semifinal game.