Well, that was fun to watch.
With the game tied up at 49 just into the second half, Asheville used a 19-2 run to pull ahead of the Campbell Camels, sweeping the regular season series 2-0 and moving to 11-1 in the conference. The Bulldogs were led by Matt Dickey, who confirmed his preseason Big South player of the year status by scoring 31 points on 8-15 shooting. He also had 7 steals. That’s right. 7 steals.
Asheville effectively silenced a Big South Champion contender yesterday. Campbell is still a major threat (and it’s hard to beat a team three times in one year) but the Bulldogs demonstrated that they have the athletic ability and basketball IQ to beat a larger team with quickness, agility, and smart play yesterday. A TON of credit needs to go to Jeremy Atkinson, who notched another triple-double while providing valuable manuvering space inside. Some of his layups were just incredible to watch. Really, this is a team effort (despite the disparate scoring numbers) and everyone is finding their groove at this time of year, which is a good thing.
Asheville has won 10 of their past 11 games and is 11-1 in conference play. More importantly, Asheville solidified its hold on first place in conference standings, holding a 1.5 game lead over CCU and a 2.5 game lead over CSU. The next three games (vs. VMI, Liberty, and Radford a.k.a. “The Commonwealth Contingent”) offer a huge opportunity for the Bulldogs to put some breathing room between themselves and Coastal/CSU/Campbell for the regular season title. VMI is 6-5 but has yet to beat one of the top 4 teams in the conference, while Liberty and Radford are near the bottom of the conference standings. Asheville should by no means rest on its laurels, but these games are games that the Bulldogs should be able to win, even if 2 of the 3 are on the road.
As a fellow alumnus pointed out to me this month, our Bulldogs are FUN to watch this year. There’s a chemistry out there that demonstrates to me that this team wants to go to the tournament this year and win a few games. Keep hitting the practices and the gym until then and enjoy this awesome run, guys.