UNCA Bulldogs net second win behind record-tying performance from Jessica Wall
WLOS - Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick knew there would be tough times when she put together UNC Asheville's non-conference schedule. The daunting slate has produced its share of troubles, with the Bulldogs stumbling to a 1-7 start. However, she said earlier this week that while it wasn't showing up in the win column, the improvements are noticeable. They were on full display Saturday, as the 'dogs went on the road to USC-Upstate and won a tough-fought bout, 76-70.
The Bulldogs were led by Jessica Wall, who poured in 22 points behind 7-11 shooting behind the arc. The seven made three-pointers tied a program record. "I'm not surprised. She's very capable if you leave her open," said Kirkpatrick after the game, adding that's the risk a team runs when it plays a zone defense, as the Spartans did.
Wall took no time to heat up. She canned four threes in the opening quarter, leading Asheville to a 22-20 lead after one. UNCA pushed the lead to seven by halftime, but had to survive a third quarter Spartan rally, led by Anda Kuzmina who paced USC-Upstate with 17. The Bulldogs turned to their post tandem of Bree Fitzgerald and Brooke Jordan-Brown as the game wound down, both players reaching double figures. Fitzgerald tallied 15 points and 9 rebounds, despite only playing 20 minutes due to foul trouble.
The physicality of the game wore down the Spartans, who only had six player register double digit minutes, compared to Asheville's eight. "We competed for four quarters, but just came up a little short," said Spartans head coach Tammy George. "I'm just proud of my kids, that's probably one of the best full games we've had this year." The loss drops USC-Upstate to 3-9.
With two non-conference games remaining, including a Thursday tilt with in-state rival Appalachian State, Kirkpatrick wants to find a way to catch the defense up with the offense. "We're really looking for an improved defensive scheme, and I think if we can hold people a little better than we've been doing then we'll get more results in the win column," she said.
The App State game tips off at 7:00PM and can be seen locally on WMYA/My40.