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Big South Recap - 2/21/24

By: Josh Noel

 

With two and a half weeks until the Big South tournament, the conference standings now feature a dead heat at the top between High Point (22-6 overall, 11-2 Big South) and UNC Asheville (19-9 overall, 11-2 Big South).

 

HPU holds the tiebreaker over UNC Asheville despite splitting their meetings for a sweep over Gardner-Webb (UNC Asheville lost an earlier season matchup to the Runnin’ Bulldogs).

 

Other teams are making moves to seize peak positioning in the Big South standings.  

 

Gardner-Webb and Winthrop may be too far back to catch up to the conference leaders, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs maintain a one game lead over the Eagles for third place with their rematch set to go down in Rock Hill for the regular season finale.

 

Longwood also won its second game in a row this week. Although two wins in a row may not sound like much, this two-game stretch lifted the Lancers from the bottom of the conference standings to fifth place.

 

With five teams within a game of each other for fifth through ninth place, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will unfold before the regular season’s end.

 

Here’s what happened this week in the Big South:

 

Wednesday, Feb. 14

Spartans Stun Panthers with Massive Comeback: USC Upstate 86, High Point 81 (OT) 

 

Despite trailing by as many as 20 points in the first half and getting out-rebounded 44-30 overall, USC Upstate came roaring back to not only force overtime but hand HPU its first loss in the Qubein Center this season.

 

The Spartans got back in the game by forcing a season-high 20 Panther turnovers and hitting timely baskets.

 

Miguel Ayesa scored a season-high 22 points for USC Upstate behind another season-high 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Ayesa made two clutch 3-pointers to bring the Spartans from down 70-64 in the final minute of regulation and he buried the Panthers by recording eight of his 22 points in overtime.

 

The Panthers got 16 points each from Duke Miles, Abdoulaye Thiam and Trae Benham while Juslin Bodo Bodo tied his career-high with 18 rebounds, his fourth consecutive game of recording 14 or more rebounds. 

 

Bulldogs Rally Past Blue Hose: UNC Asheville 71, Presbyterian 69 

 

An early 10-0 hole and 17-point halftime deficit were not enough to keep UNC Asheville down, as the Bulldogs found a way to defend home court and defeat Presbyterian.

 

UNC Asheville methodically worked its way back to take its first lead with 5:50 remaining thanks to a defensive effort that held Presbyterian to just 23 points in the second half.

 

The Blue Hose had a chance to win with the final shot after getting an offensive rebound on a second free throw attempt, but a 3-point try missed the mark and the Bulldogs maintained its perfect home record.

 

Drew Pember and Josh Banks spearheaded the Bulldogs comeback bid with 16 points each, while Marquis Barnett scored 20 for the Blue Hose.

 

Runnin’ Bulldogs Run Away from Buccaneers: Gardner-Webb 85, Charleston Southern 77

 

A strong showing in the second half allowed Gardner-Webb to defeat Charleston Southern and establish some breathing room in the middle of the conference standings.

 

DQ Nicholas and Caleb Robinson led the way with 17 points for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Robinson’s tenth consecutive game scoring in double figures.

 

A’lahn Sumler tallied 25 points for the Buccaneers in his return to action after missing one game against Winthrop. 

 

Thursday, Feb. 15

High Octane Second Half Propels Eagles over Highlanders: Winthrop 85, Radford 69

 

A monstrous 51 points for Winthrop in the second half turned a 2-point halftime lead into a comfortable victory over Radford.

 

KJ Doucet led the Eagles attack with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting, his fifth game of 20 or more points this season.  

 

DaQuan Smith scored 23 points for the Highlanders.

 

Saturday, Feb. 17

Late Surge Lifts Lancers past Blue Hose: Longwood 81, Presbyterian 73 

 

A 13-0 run midway through the second half helped Longwood to not just defeat Presbyterian on the court but for the Lancers to leapfrog the Blue Hose in the Big South standings.  

 

Walyn Napper led the Lancers with a season-high 26 points, his 23rd game scoring in double figures this season.

 

Marquis Burnett recorded 22 points for the Blue Hose, his second straight game of 20 or more points.

 

Another Runaway Second Half Sends Runnin’ Bulldogs Past Spartans: Gardner-Webb 73, USC Upstate 65

 

Gardner-Webb might just be a second half team, as this time around the Runnin’ Bulldogs came back from down six at halftime for an excellent second half to stave off USC Upstate.

 

DQ Nicholas scored 17 points for Gardner-Webb, his fifth consecutive game of 15 or more points.

 

Trae Broadnax paced the Spartans with 18 points, scoring at least 18 points for the fourth time in his previous five games.

 

Nicholas and Broadnax were named Big South Co-Players of the Week for their efforts in this week’s games on Monday, Feb. 19.


Bulldogs Blast Buccaneers at Home: UNC Asheville 86, Charleston Southern 55

 

UNC Asheville never trailed in a collective team effort to topple Charleston Southern.

 

Drew Pember recorded his eighth double-double of the season, which ties him with Charleston Southern’s Taje’ Kelly for most in the Big South.

 

Kalib Clinton scored a season-high 16 points for the Buccaneers off the bench.

 

Panthers Get Back on Track Against Highlanders: High Point 99, Radford 74 

 

It was the Kimani Hamilton show Saturday night at the Qubein Center, as the HPU forward torched the nets for 30 points in the first half leading to a career-high 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting including 6-for-8 on 3-pointers.

 

Hamilton’s career day ties him for the fourth-highest scoring effort of any player in the Big South this season.

 

Kenyon Giles had a personal best of his own, as he tallied 24 points for the Highlanders.

 

 What to watch for this week:

  • UNC Asheville puts its conference-best five-game winning streak to the test in a visit to surging Longwood (Tonight, 7:00 p.m.)

  • Gardner-Webb hosts Radford on national television in ESPNU’s Wild Card Game (Thursday, Feb. 22 7:00 p.m.)

  • Winthrop looks to gain ground in the conference standings when they host USC Upstate (Saturday, Feb. 24 2:00 p.m.)

 

Be sure to follow Matt Hackman (@mjhackman) on X for all the latest in Big South seeding probabilities!

 

Here’s his latest data:


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