BOILING SPRINGS – A layup by Tierra Huntsman with 40 seconds remaining gave Gardner-Webb a 53-52 lead as the Runnin' Bulldogs were able to hold on to defeat UNC Asheville, 55-52, on Tuesday evening to pick up their third consecutive victory.
Gardner-Webb (8-8, 3-2 Big South) led by as many as five points with 6:31 on the clock, but UNC Asheville (8-8, 2-3 Big South) would rally to take a three-point lead with 2:29 to go after a three-pointer from Ali Trani.
The Runnin' Bulldogs would with two straight baskets to reclaim the lead with 1:23 on the clock, but Asheville's Chatori Major would knock down a jumper with 59 seconds to go to put the visiting Bulldogs up by one point.
Huntsman would reclaim the lead on GWU's next possession, cutting through the lane for a layup with 40 seconds on the clock. Asheville would be unable to score on its next possession and would then send Huntsman to the free throw line with 1.8 seconds remaining, where the redshirt-junior would knock down both shots to seal the 55-52 win.
The game was tightly contested, as there were eight ties and eight lead changes.
The two teams traded baskets to start the contest until UNC Asheville was able to get some separation late in the first quarter, going on a 6-0 run to take a six-point lead at 14-8 with 1:18 on the clock. Morgan Ackermann would knock down a deep three-pointer with 44 seconds to go in the opening quarter to pull GWU within three points at 14-11, which would be the score at the end of the period.
UNC Asheville would extend its lead to a game-high seven points in the second period, leading by that margin with 4:36 on the clock at 20-13, yet the Runnin' Bulldogs would go on a 9-3 run to close the quarter to only trail by one point at halftime 23-22.
Gardner-Webb would take its first lead since midway through the first period with 8:37 on the clock in the third period after a three-pointer from Carley Plentovich put the Runnin' Bulldogs on top by a score of 25-23. GWU would extend its advantage to as high as five points with 2:57 on the clock after a layup from Evelyn Adebayo, but Asheville would respond to tie the game with 1:10 to go. A basket by Alexus Hill would give GWU a 38-36 lead with 42 seconds on the clock, and the Runnin' Bulldogs would hold a slim 38-37 advantage headed into the final period.
Carley Plentovich led Gardner-Webb in scoring, going 6-for-12 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from beyond the three-point line. Both Celia Tibbs and Tierra Huntsman led the Runnin' Bulldogs in rebounds with seven boards each.
Sonora Dengokl led UNC Asheville with 13 points, while Bronaza Fitzgerald led the team with nine rebounds.
The Runnin' Bulldogs start a two-game road swing this Saturday at High Point. Tip-off is set for 2:00 pm and the action can be seen on the Big South Network (www.bigsouthsports.com).