ASHEVILLE, NC – Western Carolina placed four players in double figures and forced 27 UNC Asheville turnovers as the Catamounts defeated the Bulldogs 87-76 at the Ramsey Center Wednesday afternoon.
Asheville (3-8) was led by freshman guard Jaron Lane’s career-high 12 points. Freshman center D.J. Cunningham had 11 points and nine rebounds. J.P. Primm , Quinard Jackson and Sean Smith added 10 points each.
“We’re playing a little better but just made too many mistakes to beat a team as talented as Western Carolina,” stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “We had opportunities to get closer but just didn’t make plays when we needed to make them. You have to give Western Carolina credit. I thought when they had to hit a shot or had to get a stop they did. There’s a reason Western Carolina is 11-2 and have wins over Louisville and Bradley.”
The Catamounts (11-2) were led by Jake Robinson’s 25 points. The senior forward went 7-of-10 from the field and 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. He scored 17 points in the first half and helped give WCU a 43-35 halftime lead. Brandon Giles chipped in 15 points, while Richie Gordon finished with 14 points. Brigham Waginger had 10 points and eight assists.
“We didn’t cover Jake Robinson a few times in the first half and every time we did he hit a three-pointer,” commented Biedenbach.
WCU took control of the game in the first half when it went on a 16-0 run to race to a 20-6 lead. Asheville helped the Catamount cause with seven turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. Robinson knocked down three long treys to spark the run.
The Bulldogs battled back. Asheville went on an 11-0 run as the Cats went ice cold from the field and cut the lead to 25-20. WCU led 43-35 at halftime. Asheville had 17 first-half turnovers that resulted in 20 Catamount points.
In the second half, the Catamounts quickly went on an 8-2 run to open the half and lead 51-37. The Bulldogs could get no closer than 10 points the rest of the game.
Asheville controlled the glass with a 43-29 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs did a great job from the free throw line as they went 30-of-37 for a season-high 81 percent.
However, Asheville struggled from the field and three-point line. The Bulldogs went 21-of-52 for 40 percent and shot 34 percent (11-of-32) from the field in the second half. Asheville shot just 21 percent from the three-point line as it went 4-of-19. The Bulldogs were 1-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.
UNC Asheville plays next on Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs travel to defending Big South Conference champion Radford at 4 p.m.