ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) -Bryan Smithson scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures as top-seeded North Carolina-Asheville beat Charleston Southern 87-63 in the opening round of the Big South Conference tournament on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (22-8), a top seed in the tournament for the first time since 1998, took charge with 52 percent field goal shooting in the first half, including 6-for-9 on 3-pointers. UNC-Asheville ran up a 25-point lead in the second half on 50 percent shooting. The result was its first victory over the Bucs in the conference tournament after losses in 1986 and 1997.
Charleston Southern (10-20) hit 44 percent of its shots in the first half, but struggled from 3-point range, hitting just 2-of-11. The Bucs fell behind 37-26 at halftime and never recovered.
Vincent James had 18 points for the Bulldogs, including an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. K.J. Garland had 13, and Reid Augst and John Williams added 11 apiece.
Omar Carter scored 18 points and Jamarco Warren added 14 for the Bucs, who have lost 13 straight road games and 16 consecutive road games in the Big South over two seasons.
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