ASHEVILLE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Top-seeded UNC Asheville rode a 25-5 run midway through the second half and went on to defeat 8th seed High Point 86-61 Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship at Kimmel Arena. The 25 point win marked the Bulldogs' largest margin of victory in a tournament game.
The host Bulldogs (22-9) will meet either fourth-seeded Charleston Southern (18-11) or fifth seed Liberty (14-17) in Thursday's 8 p.m. semifinal.
Sixth-seeded Winthrop (12-19) will take on seventh seed VMI (16-15) in Thursday's 6:00 p.m. match-up. Both semifinal games will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The Keydets eliminated second seed Coastal Carolina (19-11) 85-68 in Wednesday's first quarterfinal. Winthrop upset third-seeded Campbell (17-15) 71-55 in the second game.
High Point (13-18), which advanced on the strength of a 68-58 first-round victory over Gardner-Webb Monday, went 7:45 without a field goal during the decisive second period stretch.
After High Point pulled within 39-33 on Shay Shine's hanging layup with 16:08 to go, Asheville started the flurry by scoring 13 of the next 15 points. Defending champion UNCA extended its lead to as many as 30 (80-50) before Coach Eddie Biedenbach pulled his starters.
UNC Asheville shot 65.2 percent (15-23) from the field in the second half and made 21-of-30 free throws after the break.
Chris Stephenson led five Bulldogs in double figures with 18 points on 7-of-11 from the field. Jeremy Atkinson added 16 points and 8 boards, while J.P. Primm had 15, plus 6 assists. Jaron Lane contributed 13 and Big South player of the year Matt Dickey 11 for UNCA, which finished with a 22-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
Shine topped High Point with 22 points, while Devante Wallace added 12. Nick Barbour, the Big South's leading scorer at 20.9 points per game, missed 15 of his first 16 shots and finished with 7 points on 2-of-17 shooting (1-of-8 threes) to end a string of five-straight, 20-plus point performances.
A 3-time all-conference guard, Barbour concluded his 4-year career as the 4th all-time leading scorer in league history (2121).
High Point shot 21-of-55 (.382) on the night, 6-of-24 from 3-point distance and 13-of-19 from the line. UNC Asheville connected on 26-of-54 shots (.481), 5-of-20 triples, and 29-of-41 (.707) from the stripe.
Asheville closed the first half on a 13-2 run and led 34-25 at the break when Stephenson's short jumper fell through the bucket as the horn sounded.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 12-4 lead with 16:31 left in the opening period before High Point answered with 10 unanswered points. Wallace's 3 from left of the key gave the Panthers their first lead (14-12) with 13:10 to play.
After missing his first six shots of the game, Barbour sank a triple from the left wing to put High Point in front 23-21 with 5:47 to go in the period. But the Panthers made only 1 of their 7 attempts from the floor over the last five minutes of the half.
Lane scored all six of his first-half points in the final 4:58 for the Bulldogs. Dickey and Stephenson scored 8 points in the opening period, while Atkinson had 7.
Barbour missed 8 of his 9 shots from the field in the first half and made only 1-of-5 threes. Averaging 26.8 points over the last 5 contests, Barbour had only 3 points in the first period. Wallace, Shine and Law led High Point with 6 first-half points.
High Point shot 36 percent (9-25) from the field, 4-of-14 from 3-point distance and 3-of-6 from the line in the first half. Asheville converted 6 Panther miscues into a 12-4 edge in points off turnovers, while scoring 11 second-chance points (to only 4 four HPU) before intermission.
UNCA hit 11-of-31 (.355) shots, 4-of-17 (.235) threes and 8-11 (.727) from the stripe in the opening stanza.
UNC Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach
"Tournament time is a special time of the year and it is that way every year. I thought we did a very good job, our whole team, except about a five minute stretch in the first half, as we played focused and played our game. I told our guys to focus on High Point at the start of the tournament and I thought they did that and I am extremely happy about that. High Point has played great basketball since they changed their lineup and switched to a zone about six or seven games ago. They are good enough to play Purdue to two points and they are a very good basketball team. We had no chance to relax in this game, not against High Point, or anybody in this League."
High Point Head Coach Scott Cherry
"We got to give Asheville a lot of credit. They played a great game tonight. They are the No. 1 seed at home and played the way they should have. We had a tough night and Nick (Barbour) had a tough night. We got two great seniors that are leaving this program, and they are leaving the program better than it was before. We are excited about the future of the program and the direction we are headed."