Yes Sir, they did it again. Anything but a Big South tournament championship after this season would have been a disappointment. This game seemed like destiny.
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start with J.P. getting two easy buckets, but VMI scrapped back. After trading 3s with the score 16-11, Trent Meyer came off the bench for a quick two and a 4-point lead before the Keydets (what’s a Keydet? MS Word doesn’t even recognize it as part of the English language) came surging back to bring it within one (24-23) with 7 minutes to play in the first half. After some hard fouls, assistant coach Nic McDevitt got the crowd going and UNCA forced a few quick turnovers but were unable to capitalize on all of them.
VMI closed the half out with a 3 to bring the game back within one, Bulldogs up 36-35. This half was a little too close for one’s liking. Eddie had the guards pressuring up court and the forwards gambling in the passing lanes, so most of Asheville’s points were coming off turnovers here, but when the forwards got beat it was almost an automatic score for VMI. The Bulldogs’ offense was not helping the cause either, too many forced shots and very little rhythm kept them from opening this game up a little more. But never fear; Eddie got the boys going in the locker room, came out for the second half, and never looked back.
The second half got a little out of hand (Big South refs just aren’t up to snuff), but UNCA didn’t let it affect them as they got the offense going and started rolling. The lead got to around 10 early on as the Bulldogs began capitalizing off VMI mistakes. Around the 8:30 mark with Asheville up 9, VMI called a timeout. This is when things started to snowball. Unforced errors on the Keydets and terrific rebounding from Chris Stephenson, Jaron Lane, and Jeremy Atkinson increased the lead to 16 with 3:30 left to play. The crowd and the players started to realize the Dogs were going dancing again. JP Primm took over the last 3 minutes of the game sealing his Big South Tournament MVP and the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs rolled to an 80-64 victory of the VMI Keydets.
Players of the Game:
- JP Primm- 16 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals
- Jeremy Atkinson- 18 point (7-11), 6 assists, 5 rebounds
Other Interesting Tidbits:
- -Bulldogs only shot 21% from three. Had you told me this stat before the game, I would have predicted a loss. A testament to solid defense and rebounding against a bigger team (what else is new?)
- -All Tournament Team: JP Primm, Jeremy Atkinson (well deserved), Chris Stephenson. Plus two VMI players.
- -Tournament MVP: JP Primm
- And before I say goodbye, I just want to shout out to the students, fans, and community members at the Kimmel today. The place was rocking, I was getting reports that it looked great on ESPN2, so props to Bulldog Nation.
- And finally, big ups to the players, they’ve played with so much heart all year and deserve to be dancing.