by: Alayna Sherk – Staff Writer
UNC Asheville’s men’s basketball team beat the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers last Wednesday, 63-60.
The win marks Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach’s 250th win. Reaching such a milestone was especially sweet against a recent rival, his players said.
“Winning against Coastal is one thing he loves to do.” Jeremy Atkinson, senior starting forward, said.
Throughout the last three years, the tension has been high between these two Big South teams. The Chanticleers won back-to-back regular-season Big South Championships in 2010 and 2011.
Then the Bulldogs took a bite out of the Chanticleers’ tail feathers by seizing the 2012 Big South Tournament.
“Coach didn’t express any tension to us,” Zach Davis, freshman guard, said. “He just treated it like any other game. This is the first I’ve heard about his 250th win.”
Wednesday’s win brings the Bulldogs up to second place in the Big South’s south division. Going into this game, the teams were tied at 3-2 in Big South play. With this victory, UNCA pulls ahead to possibly challenge Charleston Southern, currently 6-0 in conference.
“Personal strategy differs with each team. With Coastal, we knew the game was going to be more personal than straight up strategy,” said Keith Hornsby, starting guard for UNCA. “So we knew we had to come out and match their energy because they always play hard.”
Two well-known Chanticleers are starting senior guards, Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood. Both of these players have scored more than a thousand points in their college careers.
“We definitely put a point of emphasis on Raffa and Greenwood,” Davis said. “We knew Greenwood likes to drive, kick it to Raffa and lets Raffa get his shots. We knew that was the focal point of their team so we put a lot of emphasis on that.”
Raffa and Greenwood lead the Chanticleers in scoring, averaging 19.3 and 13.1 points per game respectively.
“You have to focus on them,” Hornsby said. “Every day, every practice before the game, we put a target on their heads. These are guys you have to defend. We let Raffa get off way too much in the first half. We let him have way too many shots, and that had to change in the second half.”
Raffa scored 20 points in the first half alone, but in the second half the Bulldogs’ defense held him to 7.
“Yeah they were clicking early on,” Atkinson said. “Of course we slowed them down in the second half. Raffa’s a good player. You can’t give him any space.”
Greenwood had a rather uneventful game, aside from his personal fouls and beng pulled away from his UNCA opponents twce by the referee.
“He’ll try and trip you,” Atkinson said. “You can’t rely on the ref to help you out. You play through the contact and go strong.”
The game between UNCA and Coastal was physical. Free throws gave UNCA 13 of their 37 points at the half.
“They were fouling a lot in the first half,” Atkinson said. “You have to keep your composure because Coastal is a little tricky team that will try and get in your head.”
By the end of the game, UNCA had scored 17 ponts from the line to Coastal’s 6.
“They’re always physical. They always trash talk,” Hornsby said. “But we’ve been taught to not let their trash talk get to us and change our game. Basically, we have to come in focused. Just doing what we have to and not fooling around.”