Bulldogs defeat Winthrop for the first time in two years


Seth Maile

Bulldogs senior forward Doc Battle goes up for a contested lay-up.

Jake Wilson, Sports Writer, [email protected]

The UNC-Asheville Bulldogs scraped past the Winthrop Eagles 86-79 on Wednesday to improve to 19-7 on the season. This marks the Bulldogs first win against Winthrop since January of 2021. 

“A win is a win, no matter how you get it. They’re just too hard to come by in college. Winthrop has obviously given us a lot of trouble in the past and they’re a really good team. It’s a great feeling to get them back one time, especially on our home floor. This team is capable of something special, we just have to stay focused and stay together going forward,” said junior guard Fletcher Abee. 

The game started off as a defensive battle with only two points scored in the first five minutes. Winthrop was held scoreless through the first seven minutes until junior guard Sin’Cere McMahon knocked down a triple. After a late half push, the Bulldogs walked away with an 18 point lead heading into halftime. 

“We came out aggressive and played great team defense in the first half. We were locked into the scouting report and stayed solid on every possession. When we’re in that mode, we’re pretty tough to score on and our offense greatly benefits from that,” Abee said. 

Both teams exploded in the second half combining for 115 points. After an Alex Caldwell made 3-pointer, the Bulldogs found themselves up by 31 points with 13 minutes remaining. The Eagles then went on a 49-22 scoring run to bring the game within four points. 

“I was telling these guys I was at Clemson in 2018 and it was one of the biggest comebacks in the history of Division I at that time. I can’t remember exactly what the number was but it was a game very similar. Once they started rolling, they didn’t miss. We gave them some opportunities, like we had a couple technical fouls that should not have occurred, so I hope we learned from that. You know, you hope  you can play with big leads and we’ve done that. We had one here last week with High Point and we did what you’re supposed to do, we held onto it tonight,” said men’s basketball head coach Mike Morrell. 

After some clutch free throws from Caleb Burgess and Tajion Jones, UNC-Asheville pulled out the win. Drew Pember finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and became the 38th player to join the university’s 1000 point club. Jones added 15 points after shooting 100% from the charity stripe. 

“It’s always good to win a rivalry game, especially one that has as much history as this one. Beating them at their place when they were undefeated and while they were on one of the nation’s longest winning streaks was a good moment for our program. But all wins count the same, so we are equally as excited about this one as well. We have a great deal of respect for them as a program and what they have been able to accomplish over the years,” said assistant men’s basketball coach Woody Taylor. 

The Bulldogs travel to Presbyterian College on Saturday as they look to stay at the top of the Big South. Meanwhile, the Blue Hose are looking to end their 12 game losing streak. 

“It’s certainly going to be another tough one. Presbyterian gave us a good fight the last time we played them at home. We know we’re going to have to show up, play the right way, be aggressive and connected in order to get it done on the road,” Abee said.