Matt Dickey has shown a flair for the dramatic before. That’s why it shouldn’t have come as much surprise when he hit the biggest shot of UNC-Asheville’s tournament opener on Tuesday night.
In the end, Dickey and his Bulldogs ended up toppling the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in the first of four “First Four” NCAA tournament games 81-77 in overtime.
UNC-Asheville trailed at halftime, trailed for much of the second half and trailed with just seconds remaining. That’s when Dickey nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner, tying the game that would eventually be won by the Bulldogs in the extra frame.
Dickey didn’t do it alone, though. The junior guard scored 22 points, but so did fellow junior guard J.P. Primm. The Dickson, Tenn., native also came up big on defense for the Bulldogs, coming up with the game-clinching steal and ensuing free throws to preserve the victory.
Late-game heroics are nothing new for the Bulldogs. It was Dickey who singlehandedly took over the waning seconds of a win earlier this year, with a steal and desperation game-winning shot.
“We don’t have any quit in this team,” UNC-Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach said during his postgame interview. “Matt Dickey makes another shot out of the corner and gets us to overtime. I can’t say enough about the job he’s done this year.”
Dickey struggled in the first half, scoring only three points, but he said he used the confidence of his teammates to keep shooting in the second half — he scored 17 in the second half. He added a key bucket in the overtime, and along with Primm’s solid play, the Bulldogs are moving on.
UNC-Asheville will take on the Southeast region’s No. 1 seed, the Pittsburgh Panthers, on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
NESN?s college basketball coverage is presented by Bodog.net.