ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Jeremy Atkinson scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead UNC Asheville past Western Carolina 71-61 Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
D.J. Cunningham added 12 points and nine rebounds to go along with three blocks to help the Bulldogs.
Western Carolina led early with strong performances in the first half by Tom Tankelewicz and Trey Sumler, who scored nine points each. Tankelewicz connected on three 3-pointers in the first half to help the Catamounts build a 32-30 lead at halftime.
Tankelewicz finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Sumler finished with 11 points.
UNC Asheville outplayed Western Carolina in the second half, outscoring the Catamounts 41-29.
Western Carolina shot 41.9 percent (13 for 31) in the second half while holding the Bulldogs to 31.4 percent (11 for 35).
Will Weeks added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for UNC Asheville.
College basketball coaches across the country will hit the recruiting trail hard in July to target the Class of 2017's top prospects. Which players are the nation's top programs targeting?
Wendell Carter, the No. 2-ranked player in the 2017 class, skipped a basketball event for a school play. And he's seriously considering Harvard.
Mark Fox has fashioned three consecutive 20-win seasons at Georgia, and the Bulldogs look like they have enough talent for a return to the NCAAs.