Two mountain rivals met in Asheville's Kimmel Arena Friday night. The Western Carolina Catamounts and the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, both wanting and expecting to come away with a season opening victory. Both teams were playing for the honor of their conference in this battle between the Southern Conference and the Big South Conference. Tonight, it was the Big South that prevailed.
While both teams were picked to finish the season third in their respective division, the Bulldogs played anything like a third place team. Asheville's lone returning starter from last season's Big South Championship team, Jeremy Atkinson, lead all scores with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals. Conversely the Catamounts played like a team that would battle for even a fifth place finish in their division.
The Bulldogs walked away with their third straight home win over the Catamounts in games played in Asheville, the final score was 71-61.
The rest of the Bulldogs were almost as efficient Atkinson, as they out-shot the Catamounts in field goals, 46% to 32%, as well as, out scoring the Cats 46 to 28 points in the paint. While the Cats did edge out the Bulldogs in 3-point shots, making less than a stellar 7 of 25 attempts, (the Bulldogs were even worse in threes, going 0-7 on the night), but the points scored inside by the Bulldogs were more than enough to give the dogs a victory.
The Cats were hampered by personal fouls all night, but especially in the second half of the game. Boggs fouled out, while Ross, King, Sumler finished the game with 4 fouls each. The Cats committed a total of 25 personal fouls, 15 coming in the second half. The lack of senior leadership was very apparent, as well as, the lack of height, and the poor free throw shooting that continues to plague Catamount basketball teams.