There’s no such thing as moral victories in basketball. A loss is a loss and it goes in the appropriate column. As former Bulldog Joey Harrell said on the twitters last night, Asheville outscored UConn in the final 37 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, there are 40 minutes in a game.
However, UNC Asheville has to hold their heads high for a great performance against the number four team in the country. After UConn came out with a 10-1 run to start the game, it would have been easy to throw one’s hands up and let the game turn into a blowout. But not when you’re on Eddie Biedenbach’s team. Asheville played hard and kept the game within a 7-14 point range for much of the rest of the way.
Much of this can be tossed up, as usual, to size differential. UConn had its way inside the paint on offense and defense, though Jeremy Atkinson and Quinard Jackson made things difficult by going for loose balls and rebounds. Still, there was a 10 rebound differential in favor of the Huskies which isn’t going to work in your favor in a close game. The size difference was also noticable on the other side of the floor as the Bulldogs had difficulty driving the lane. You have to think some of this was mental, as Chris Stephenson absolutely posterized 3 Huskies with about 4 minutes left in the game.
With the inside game unavailable for all practicable purposes, the Bulldogs turned to their three-point game. “Live by the 3, die by the 3” is a common saying in basketball and it certainly applied here. The shots eventually fell for the Bulldogs, but it took the larger portion of the first half until Matt Dickey (16 points) drained the Bulldogs’ first three.
There were a lot of things I liked about this game overall, though. Jeremy Atkinson (14 points) was one board shy of a double double and proved once again why he was such a good JuCo recruit. Keith Hornsby also showed spark, and Jaleel Roberts (in the few minutes that he played) demonstrated both his strengths (you can’t teach 7-0) and weaknesses (holding on to the ball).
You have to think that Asheville had a chance to win this game, especially when the Bulldogs cut it to 7 early in the second half. However, the momentum was squandered soon after when Quinard Jackson gave the refs a bit too much lip (at least I think that’s what happened, feel free to correct me) and was whistled for a technical foul. Regardless of the merits of the earlier call, you have to play the game and let the coaches argue with the officials. A hard thing to do, but Quinard is a senior and should know better.
Well, this loss will be vacated anyways when the inevitable UConn scandal drops. In the meantime Asheville faces a good mid-major opponent in College of Charleston today. Charleston may have lost to UCF yesterday, but they beat Clemson (sound familiar?) just before that and will be no slouch. Bobby Cremins and Eddie also go way back and it’ll be nice to see them on the court together for possibly the first time since the 1960’s.
Asheville 72, College of Charleston 67.