BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Three Union College men's basketball players recorded double-doubles, pacing the Bulldogs to a big 78-70 victory over Tennessee Wesleyan on Wednesday evening in Appalachian Athletic Conference play at Robsion Arena.
With the win, Union improved to 8-2 overall, 5-1 in the AAC, and halted Tennessee Wesleyan's 19-game AAC regular season winning streak. TWC, who is receiving votes in this week NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll, fell to 6-5, 4-1 in the AAC with the loss.
"It wasn't an easy game for either team to play," said head coach Kevin Burton. "But, I am thrilled to death to get a win over such a good basketball team as Tennessee Wesleyan. They are so hard to play against and are so well coached. It's still hard for me to believe we won by eight points.
"Our freshman stepped up big tonight. Michael Bueter and Dalton Whitney stabilized people for us. Gerard Newby's minutes in the second half were critical, I can't explain how huge his play was for us tonight."
In the game's outset, Union got off on the right foot, as Tarik Smith drained three straight three-pointers in the first three minutes to give Union a 9-3 lead. The host Bulldogs continued to roll early, stretching the lead out to 16-5 at the 14-minute mark on another made jumper by Smith.
With 11:48 left in the period, Union took their biggest lead of the period at 25-11 after yet another Smith jumper. Here, TWC began to crawl back in it, eventually knotting the game up at 34-all with 2:09 left.
TWC continued to ride the momentum into intermission, taking a 36-35 lead in the final minute, and holding it into the locker room for halftime.
Similar to the first half, Union came out in the second half on fire. They quickly took the lead back on a quick three by Bueter and proceeded to start the period on a 8-0 run to open a 44-36 lead. Union remained hot over the next couple of minutes, and extended the lead out to 11 points (48-37) just four minutes into the half.
From there, Union rolled, opening up an insurmountable 67-52 lead with 8:38 to go after Newby converted a three-point play. The closest TWC got to the Union lead the rest of the night was six points, (72-66 with 2:14), as the host Bulldogs notched a huge AAC victory at home.
Overall, Smith, Johnson and Fitzgerald White recorded the double-doubles for Union. Smith led the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Johnson had 14 points and snatched 10 'boards. White's 10 point, 11 rebound performance rounded out the group.
Meanwhile, Bueter scored 15 points and dished out a team-high six assists. He also made two steals on the night, as well.
TWC was led in defeat by Devante Jenkins, who scored a game-high 28 points.
By the Numbers
- Union's victory over Tennessee Wesleyan was their first over TWC since Feb. 16, 2011. TWC had won five straight in the series coming into tonight's contest.
- Coming into tonight's game, White had recorded the only double-double for the season for Union, recording it against Miami-Hamilton (Ohio) on Nov. 15 (22 points, 10 'boards).
- Johnson's double-double was his first of the year and the eighth of his career. Meanwhile, Smith notched the first double-double of his career in the victory.
- Union took control of the game in the second half after shooting 52.8 percent (19-of-36), while TWC struggled in the second period, only shooting 37.9 percent (11-of-29).
Union travels to the campus of Asbury University on Friday to play in the 2013 Zweifel/Pritchett Classic. The Bulldogs open play in the classic against Welch (Tenn.), with tip-off set for 4 p.m.