UNC Asheville blew a major opportunity last night losing on their home floor to Presbyterian 69-65. The Bulldogs could have been the first Big South team to ten conference wins this season but instead they slip behind High Point, Radford, and Charleston Southern in the Big South standings, for now, and now have a daunting three game stretch with a visit to Winthrop and home match ups against Radford and High Point. Was the story last night UNCA's inability to pull out a big win, one in which Ken Pomeroy gave the Bulldogs a 92% chance of winning, or the play of Gregg Nibert's Presbyterian Blue Hose?
The first half seems plague the Bulldogs in Kimmel Arena lately. In the last three home games, against the bottom portion of the Big South in Presbyterian, Campbell, and Longwood, the Bulldogs have been outscored 95-69. It does speak to their second half resurgence but you have to think Asheville fans would be more comfortable with 40 minutes of consistent basketball. Last night UNCA shot just 25% in the first half and Andrew Rowsey alone was 1-for-7 from the field. Rowsey did respond with 24 points on the night but missed the big shot that would have given the Bulldogs the lead with about 20 seconds remaining.
Basically Asheville went from a projected 12 win Big South team last night to an 11 win Big South team which means a seeding difference of five spots in Myrtle Beach and playing on the first day of the conference tournament instead of a bye. While the Bulldogs squandered a big opportunity last night to be the leaders in the clubhouse for the weekend there is nothing but opportunity ahead with three huge match ups on the horizon.
The other story last night was the continued play of Presbyterian when they are healthy. The Blue Hose now have five conference wins, their highest total since going 8-10 during the 2011-12 season. Last night was also the first time that they've won back-to-back conference games since February of 2012. There is a miniscule outside shot that the Hose could climb into the 7+ seed mix but they've basically locked up the eighth seed in Mytrle Beach which means a probable match up with Longwood or Campbell and a chance to play the one seed in the tournament in the quarterfinals. It doesn't matter who the opponent might be because William Truss, Jordan Downing, and DeSean Murray are going to make the Hose a tough out in March.