By Harrison Slaughter – firstname.lastname@example.org – Staff Writer
K.J. Weaver and Tianna Knuckles both scored in double figures to help the UNC Asheville women’s basketball team overcome a slow start to pick up a 76-56 win against Brevard College in their first and only exhibition game.
“It’s an exhibition game, so obviously it’s a great experience and time for our kids to play in front of the fans for the first time and for us to be able to try different combinations with our kids,” said Brenda Kirkpatrick, head coach of the UNCA women’s basketball team. “We did scout Brevard and treat this like a regular game.”
To overcome the slow start, the Bulldogs had to continue being aggressive, but be smart aggressive, said Shonese Jones, a senior UNCA guard.
“We had to put our foot down on defense and execute on offense and do the little things we weren’t doing,” she said.
The Bulldogs got the first bucket of the game, but quickly found themselves in a small hole early. A layup by Weaver and a 3-pointer by Knuckles sparked a 14-0 run by the Bulldogs that saw them build a lead they would not surrender for the rest of the night.
“We were prepared for some of their attacks, although you couldn’t tell by the way we were playing defense some of the time. I thought they did a pretty good job of attacking the rim and the referees were calling it super tight,” Kirkpatrick said.
“We were ready for that. We know we have to do a better job of keeping them off the free throw line and protecting the paint. Pretty much, it was what we expected.”
Weaver, center for the UNCA women’s basketball team, had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“First off, I’d like to shout out my teammate K.J. Weaver. She was 7 for 7 from the field – 100 percent, which is phenomenal. Getting the ball to her was our game plan, or it was, after we realized how good she was doing. She was a huge turnaround for us,” said Paige Love, a junior guard. “We kept going to her and we kept staying together. We kept overcoming some adversity with the refs and we pushed through.”
Going into halftime, the Bulldogs led 35-27. The Tornadoes hung within about 10 points for most of the second half, but by the end UNCA pulled away to win by 20.
UNCA outscored Brevard 22-3 in bench points and had a 14-8 advantage in second chance points as well.
According to Kirkpatrick, defense is something they will look to work on. Brevard scored too many points from the free throw line and too many in the paint.
“We really want to live and die by our defense,” Kirkpatrick said, “I’m happy we scored 76 points. That’s great, but we really have to hold teams.”