by: Alayna Sherk – Staff Writer
The UNC Asheville Bulldogs tried to take a bite out of the Jacksonville State Gamecocks this Saturday, but came up with a mouthful of tailfeathers.
The last second of play determined the outcome of Saturday’s game. The lead switched 11 times during the game, but it ended with an offensive rebound buzzer beater by the Gamecocks.
A loss is a loss, and although the game was close, men’s basketball head coach Eddie Biedenbach’s message to his team remains the same.
“As Coach B says, we just need to stick to our principles: attitude and effort,” said Trent Meyer, guard for the Bulldogs.
The game was tied up after Sam Hughes made two foul shots. With only eight seconds left, it appeared as though the game would go into overtime. In the final second Ronnie Boggs, the senior guard for the Gamecocks, rebounded his teammate’s jump shot and tipped it in for the win.
“We out rebounded them, but we lost the rebound of the game,” Biedenbach said.
The Bulldogs had seven wins in a row and held first place in the division two weeks ago.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys today. They’re college kids and everyone expected them to be up in the air,” Biedenbach said. “And then, when we were first place in the league, everyone expected us to just win and our players weren’t any different. We just can’t do that.”
Though this Saturday marks the fourth loss in a row, Biedenbach and his Bulldogs said they are still improving.
“We’ve lost several close ones here and it’s a missed assignment or a ‘my bad’ and you just have to do better,” Biedenbach said. “It’s a tough way to go, but it’s how you grow up. We have to learn from our mistakes.”
The battle against Jacksonville State was particularly difficult for UNCA because Keith Hornsby, one of the Bulldogs’ top shooters, was out with a shoulder injury.
Corey Littlejohn, sophomore guard, was willing and able to pick up the slack for his injured teammate. Littlejohn had one of the best nights of his career with 19 points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal.
However, individual effort was not enough to take the win at home. The Bulldogs are making progress, but as a team there are shifting levels of play.
“We needed to make some more plays. We had some guys that didn’t contribute enough,” Biedenbach said. “In the past, we’ve had to have everybody play good to win. In this game we had a chance to win, but three or four guys didn’t play well.”
The same few problems led to each Bulldog defeat, according to Biedenbach.
“We have trouble guarding jump shots, and they make a jump shot to take the lead. We have trouble rebounding and they make a rebound tip in to win the game,” Biedenbach said. “So even though we’re getting better in those areas, and we’re improving, those are the two things that beat us in the end.”
Biedenbach had the same criticism of his team week after week regardless whether they pulled off a victory or a loss.
The problem is not whether the team is good, but if they can keep up the powerful pace.
“From the beginning to the middle to last week there has been has been inconsistent play,” Biedenbach said. “It just comes down to effort. Understanding what’s happening in the game, where you are in the game and what you have to do.”
The season is not complete yet. UNCA still has two games left in the regular season against Presbyterian College and Winthrop University.
“We’re going to do what we always do,” said Jeremy Atkinson, senior forward. “Work hard in practice, focus on defense and get the offensive rebounds. Our offense has been there. It’s just our defense and offensive rebounds.”
The Bulldogs are looking to prepare themselves in practice and add two more victories to their record.
“We’re going to go into our film room and get better,” Meyer said. “We’re going to come out and put it all into practice. Hopefully we’ll take on Presbyterian at home and get a win.”
The Bulldogs host Presbyterian Wednesday at 7 p.m.