COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Carolina men's basketball team shook off a brief two-game losing streak Wednesday night, winning a shootout with UNC Asheville 89-75. After falling behind early, the Gamecocks (3-3) went on a big run to claim the lead and out-gun the Bulldogs (2-3) behind five different players scoring in double figures. Laimonas Chatkevicius led the way with 17 points and 13 rebounds after being inserted as a starter for the first time this season.
Asheville jumped out to an early 12-6 lead on a 3 from guard Andrew Rowsey, but the Gamecocks answered with a 21-2 run over the next six minutes to held a 27-14 lead after a lay-up and make at the foul line from rookie guard Marcus Stroman. The Gamecocks would hit 8-of-11 attempts from the floor during the stretch, including a pair of 3s from sophomore guard Justin McKie and Chatkevicius, and two lay-ups from sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell.
Asheville would battle back, answering the Carolina run with an 8-0 run of its own on a pair of 3s from Rowsey and Kevin Vannata and a make underneath from Sam Hughes. Sophomore guard Duane Notice would hit the third Carolina 3 of the half to halt the Bulldog run and put the score at 30-22 Gamecocks with seven minutes remaining in the opening half.
The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the Carolina lead, pulling within five at 34-29 on Rowsey's 16th point of the half with just under a minute remaining. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson responded after a Gamecock timeout, however, hitting a 3 with 30 seconds remaining to give Carolina a 37-29 advantage at the break.
South Carolina shot well in the opening 20 minutes of play, hitting 48.4 percent (15-31), compared to 28.6 percent (10-35) for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore forward Demetrius Henry gave Carolina a 10-point lead at 46-36 early in the second half with a pair of free throws after a Bulldog foul. Rowsey connected for another 3, but the Gamecocks maintained their lead with a 3 from Notice and a lay-in and make and the foul line from Johnson, putting the score at 53-41 Carolina with 13:06 to play.
Rowsey collected his fourth foul of the game with 12:29 remaining in the game, forcing him to the bench. A dunk from Notice and a tip-in from Henry pushed the Carolina lead to 11, but Asheville closed the gap to within eight on a 3 from David Robertson with just under 10 minutes to play. The Bulldogs called a timeout trailing 57-49.
Chatkevicius collected his first-career double-double moments later, hitting his second 3 of the night following a tip-in, pushing Carolina's lead back to 12 with 7:45 to play.
A coast-to-coast jumper in the lane from Stroman saw the Gamecock lead grow to 18 points at 70-52 with just over six minutes to play. After an Asheville turnover, and one from Carolina on the opposite end, Thornwell gave the Gamecocks a 20-point advantage on a steal and two-handed dunk from the baseline.
The Bulldogs would heat up from deep in the waning minutes to cut the lead as low as ten, 85-75 with 51 seconds to play, but the Gamecocks would not let them get any closer.
Three different players either set or matched their career highs in scoring, with Chatkevicius (17) and Henry (15) setting new marks and McKie (8) matching his previous best.
The Carolina defense limited UNC Asheville to just 8-of-34 on two-point field goals (23.5 percent).
South Carolina dished 13 assists on 15 made baskets in the first half, including four helpers from senior guard Tyrone Johnson and three from both rookie guard Marcus Stroman and sophomore guard Sindarius Thornwell.
Junior forward Laimonas Chatkevicius matched a career high with three blocks in the first half alone. Chatkevicius, making his first start of the season, set new career highs with 17 points and 13 rebounds as well.
Sophomore Demetrius Henry set a new career high with 15 points, adding eight rebounds.
Justin McKie matched career high in points with eight, hitting a 3-of-5 shots.
Tyrone Johnson and Marcus Stroman both set new season-highs in assists, with six apiece.
Junior forward Michael Carrera did not play due to a concussion.
Both teams were exceptional from three-point range as Carolina made 8-of-17 and Ashville lived off the deep ball with a 15-of-29 day. Rowsy would score 30 of the team's 73 points, becoming the first 30-point scorer allowed by the Gamecocks this season. On two-point field goals alone in the game, the visitors made just 8-of-34 attempts and allowed the Gamecocks to own the paint by a 38-16 margin.