BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union Bulldogs stormed out of the gates tonight as they jumped out to an early 9-2 lead just barely four minutes into the contest against conference leader Tennessee Wesleyan and never looked back, topping the Bulldogs 95-82 in Appalachian Athletic Conference play.
With the victory Union improves its record to 15-12 (9-5 in conference), while Tennessee Wesleyan falls to 12-13 (9-4 in conference) on the season.
The first half of the contest saw the Union Bulldogs shoot 19-for-35 (54.3 percent) from the floor while Tennessee Wesleyan struggled, only converting on 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) from the field. Union then used the momentum from the offensive end of the floor to force Tennessee Wesleyan into 13 first half turnovers, resulting in 15 points off turnovers. Union's lead grew to a game high 27 points, 50-23, with 1:39 remaining which proved to be too high of a mountain to climb for Tennessee Wesleyan.
Union truly used a team effort the rest of the way on the evening in the conference win as the Bulldogs had five players, Curtis Stephens (Detroit, MI), Kearney Demus (Lexington, KY), Payton Ponzer (Independence, KY), Josh Hurd (Independence, KY) and Ihsan Phillips (Philadelphia, PA), score in double figures, 23, 20, 16, 12 and 12, respectively. Stephens netted his game high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting (53.8 percent) from the field as well as converting all of his free throw attempts, 7-of-7, on the evening. Union also collected outstanding efforts inside the paint from forwards Hurd and Phillips, both notching double-doubles with 12 points and 10 boards.
Tennessee Wesleyan never quit however, cutting the 26-point Union halftime lead down to just 11 points midway through the second half, but it was not enough as Union stayed strong down low, recording a season high 51 rebounds on the evening and converted on 18-24 (75 percent) from the free throw line in the second half, 27-0f-40 (67.5 percent) for the game. Tennessee Wesleyan was led on the evening by Matt Harper who tallied 18 points along with nine rebounds. Sean Bridges also chipped in 16 points for the visiting Bulldogs and Quincy Scates recorded a double-double in the losing effort amassing 13 points and 10 boards.
Union returns to action Saturday evening as they travel to Lookout Mountain, GA to do battle with Covenant College in an Appalachian Athletic Conference game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.