Mar 3, 2012; Asheville, NC, USA; North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs guard Matt Dickey (2) brings the ball up court against the Virginia Military Keydets during the first half of the finals of the 2012 Big South Tournament at Kimmel Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE
The UNC-Asheville Bulldogs pulled away from Virginia Military in the second half to win Saturday's Big South Championship Game 80-64 and earn a bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Jeremy Atkinson led the way with 18 points and six assists.
The first half of Saturday's Big South Championship Game seemingly promised an exciting second half finish, with the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs taking a one-point lead into intermission. The Virginia Military Keydets were held without a point for a 3:27 stretch in the second half after tying the game at 47 apiece, however, allowing the Bulldogs to go on a 9-0 run that would prove too much to overcome.
Jeremy Atkinson paced the Bulldogs, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the second half. J.P. Primm added 16 points (five in the second half), and the two guards had six assists each during the 80-64 win. Primm was instrumental defensively notching four of the team's 12 steals, and helping force 20 Keydet turnovers overall.
VMI relied heavily on the 3-point line in the first half, going 6-for-17 from long range to keep up with UNC-Asheville. They went just 1-for-6 in the second half, however, shooting 38.9 percent from the floor for the game. Keith Gabriel led the Keydets with 12 points off the bench, but got there at the cost of 3-for-11 shooting (2-for-8 beyond the arc) and four turnovers.
With the win, UNC-Asheville became the first team in the nation to punch its ticket to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, making the trip for the second straight year.