We’ve seen it before…a team gets up 11 in the first half and the other team comes back to make it a close game. Then, in the second half, a 10 point lead evaporates. Usually, UNC Asheville is the one trailing, but Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN, the Tennessee Volunteers were the team rallying for a 72-68 win.
Asheville (6-5) was led by a season-high 25 points from Tennessee-native J.P. Primm. Jeremy Atkinson had 15 points and Chris Stephenson added 10. Matt Dickey was held to a season-low seven points.
Leading by double digits is something the Bulldogs are not used to in a guarantee game. Second-chance points and three-point shooting by the Vols led to the comeback. They had an 18-6 advantage on second-chance points.
“We played hard and battled but didn’t guard the three-point line a couple of times and it cost us,” stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “Tennessee did a great job defensively the whole game. We did a solid job scoring 68 points.
“This is a tough one to take,” added Biedenbach. “We outplayed Tennessee in a lot of areas but in the end we didn’t play well enough to get a win. Hopefully, we learn from this game and become a better team.”
Asheville led for all but the first thirty seconds of the first half, building an 11-point lead at 29-18. Jon Nwannunu scored eight points in the first half, shooting 3-for-4 from the field and had four rebounds.
UT rallied late in the first half, using three-point shots to eat into the Bulldogs lead. The Dogs ended up leading 35-32 at the half thanks to an Atkinson tip-in as the buzzer sounded.
This was the kind of game Asheville should have won…it certainly was a far cry from the 75-point loss they absorbed two seasons ago in Knoxville, and would have been a great win for the program.
They are now off for eight days before playing at Western Carolina on Dec. 28, then it’s onto Big South Conference play.