Bulldogs show grit in win against Highlanders

The UNC Asheville women’s basketball team outlasted Radford University Tuesday at Kimmel Arena in a grinding physical win, 58-48. Both teams deployed stingy defenses and held their opponents to a lower-than-average offensive output.

“Radford, if they’re not at the top, they’re second in the league in field goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense,” said Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick, UNCA head coach. “Because of their size, they really clog up the paint.”

The Radford roster lists five players at six feet or taller, three of which appear in the top 10 rebounders of the Big South Conference. UNCA countered the Highlanders’ size with K.J. Weaver, junior center, Tiffany Wilson, sophomore forward and Bronaza Fitzgerald, sophomore center.

“I like it, because it proves to me my defense is good,” Weaver said. “A lot of the post players we’ve been playing are more undersized, but to have somebody that’s either my height or higher and being able to defend them effectively and get rebounds on them, makes me feel pretty good.”

Weaver led all players with 14 rebounds and chipped in four points while only committing one personal foul. The five Radford post players combined for 19 rebounds and 17 personal fouls.

Kirkpatrick expected a tough game from the Highlanders, a team who had never lost at Kimmel Arena.

“I was a little disappointed in how we started the game,” Kirkpatrick said.

adding that she did not want to use the Bulldogs previous win against Liberty  as an excuse.

“After the Liberty game, we had two great practices leading up to this game,” Kirkpatrick said. “I don’t think it was a Liberty win hangover.”

The Bulldogs led halftime 21-19, one of their lowest first half outputs of the season and only hit 1-of-9 from the 3-point line.

Chatori Major, junior guard, started the second half with only four points, but became the offensive focal point for the Bulldogs down the stretch and finished the game with 18 points.

“The reason I score is because somebody else did something to allow me to score,” Major said. “If there’s somebody in the corner who can shoot the ball like Tianna, I’m able to get an open lane to the basket.”

Tianna Knuckles, UNCA junior guard, joined Major with a double-digit scoring performance of 12 points and was perfect from the free-throw line.

UNCA’s last seven points came from foul shots as Radford attempted to press the Bulldogs and cause turnovers.

The Bulldogs have a week off before they face Gardner-Webb University for their last regular season road game. Gardner-Webb defeated UNCA at Kimmel Arena before the Bulldogs started their current eight-game winning streak.

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