Men’s basketball defeats Longwood in first nationally televised home game

Seth Maile and


Roman Ughelus

UNC Asheville’s bench celebrates a big play as the Bulldogs take the lead

Jake Wilson, [email protected], Sports Writer

The Bulldogs defeated the Longwood Lancers on Jan. 12 with a score of 54-46 to improve to 12-6 on the season, while ESPN viewers across the country watched. 

“It wasn’t perfect by any means, but you’ll take a win over Longwood anyway you can get it. Pretty, ugly, you know whatever, I thought in the second half we kind of settled in,” said men’s basketball head coach Mike Morrell. 

UNC Asheville entered Thursday as the second best team in the Big South, only behind their opponent Longwood. The Lancers opened as 2.5-point favorites and won their previous seven games. 

“Yeah, obviously a great win. Anytime you can protect home court against the defending champions of the league, it’s a pretty satisfying feeling. We did a great job of staying connected over the course of 40 minutes, especially down the stretch in the second half where it was really needed. Just really proud of this group and how hard we fought to get it done,” said junior guard Fletcher Abee. 

Longwood has won the last three matchups between the two teams. This marks the Bulldogs first win against Longwood since December of 2020. 

“We have a lot of respect for their program. Anytime you can bring something to an end it’s always exciting. We did something similar with Winthrop a few years back. It was a really good game and it felt good to get a victory in front of our fans who provided a great atmosphere here in Kimmel Arena,” said assistant men’s basketball coach Woody Taylor. 

The game started off to a jump as Abee hit a three in the Bulldogs first possession. After a turnover-filled first half, the Bulldogs trailed 27-22 heading into halftime. 

“I feel the thing that switched in the second half was we just let go and played free. We didn’t live and die on every mistake, played as a team and stuck to the plan,” said senior forward Doc Battle. 

UNC Asheville outscored Longwood 32-19 in the second half, making it their third straight comeback win. 

“I think it really speaks to this team’s experience and maturity. Obviously we don’t want to get in the habit of being down at halftime but there’s never been a time where we feel like we’re out of a game because of the other team’s lead going into the half. We’re confident enough in our individual abilities as well as our ability to work together as a team and all we do is stay in the fight and keep doing the things we’re taught and prepared to do in order to give us a chance to win in the last 4 minutes,” Abee said. 

Senior forward Drew Pember led the team with 19 points and added 14 rebounds, making it his sixth double-double of the season. Fletcher Abee finished with 10 points after shooting two of three from behind the arc. 

“As far as my performance goes, it’s always good to make a few shots early, helps you settle in and opens up some other things as the game goes on,” Abee said. 

The Bulldogs now sit at the top of the Big South as they face Gardner Webb on Saturday. 

“It always feels good to be at the top of the league, especially a league as good as this one. We also know that as quickly as you can get there, it can be taken from you. Our goal is and always will be to try to be better today than we were yesterday and be better tomorrow than we were today. Each game brings a new challenge and focus. We focus on the process and feel the results will come,” Taylor said.