Gardner-Webb beats UNC Asheville, will face Winthrop in Big South semis

Eric Jamison Jr.'s double-double led the Runnin' Bulldogs to their seventh win in eight games

RADFORD, Va. — Eric Jamison Jr. scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and third-seeded Gardner-Webb pulled away sixth-seeded UNC Asheville for a 72-62 win in the quarterfinals of the Big South Conference tourney on Thursday.

Gardner-Webb closed the game on a 17-7 run, holding UNC Asheville without a field goal for the final 6:08, missing its last eight shots.

Jaheam Cornwall had 16 points for Gardner-Webb (16-15), which takes a five-game winning streak into its semifinal game against second-seeded Winthrop (22-10) on Friday. Nate Johnson added 14 points and Christian Turner 12.

DeVon Baker scored 18 points for UNC Asheville (15-16). Coty Jude added 16 points. Lavar Batts Jr. had 13 points.

Gardner-Webber, which shot 51% for the game, led 36-31 at halftime before UNC Asheville went on a 15-4 run to start the second half. Gardner Webb responded with eight straight and the game stayed tight until UNC Asheville went golf after Jude’s 3-pointer cut Gardner-Webb’s lead to 59-58 with 6:08 to go.

A spot in the Big South championship game will be on the line when Gardner-Webb and Winthrop play Friday at 6 p.m. The teams split the regular season series at one win apiece. The teams last played each other on Feb. 13, when the Runnin’ Bulldogs outshot Winthrop from the field 50 percent to 40.3 percent and recorded 11 fewer turnovers en route to a 74-70 victory.

Each of these teams has relied heavily on their seniors this year. Chandler Vaudrin, Hunter Hale and Josh Ferguson have collectively accounted for 41% of Winthrop’s scoring this season and 46% of the team’s points over its last five games. For Gardner-Webb, Jamison Jr., Nate Johnson and Cornwall have scored 55% of the team’s points this season, including 72% of all Runnin’ Bulldogs points over their last five.

Jamison has connected on 35.7% of the 56 3-pointers he’s attempted and has gone 4 for 10 over the last three games. He’s also converted 67.9% of his free throws this season.

Gardner-Webb is 0-9 when scoring fewer than 64 points and 16-6 when scoring at least 64. Winthrop, meanwhile, is ranked fifth among all Division I teams with an average of 81.6 points per game. The Eagles have averaged 90 points per game over their last five games.