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Ahmad Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and UNC Asheville rallied to beat Gardner-Webb 75-69 on Saturday in a showdown between two Big South first-place teams

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ASHEVILLE, North Carolina — Ahmad Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and UNC Asheville rallied to beat Gardner-Webb 75-69 on Saturday in a showdown between two Big South first-place teams.

Kevin Vannatta's 3-pointer gave Asheville the lead for good, 62-60, with two minutes to go and his two free throws made it 71-66 with 23 seconds left. Dylan Smith and Sam Hughes added two free throws apiece after that.

Thomas was 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. Hughes added 17 points, Vannatta 14 and Smith 11 for Asheville (13-6, 6-1). Will Weeks collected 10 rebounds.

Tyrell Nelson had 18 points and 11 rebounds, his eighth double-double this season for Gardner-Webb (10-9, 5-2), which had a five-game win streak snapped. Laquincy Rideau scored a career-high 18 points and Dylan Poston added 11.

Gardner-Webb led 32-23 at halftime despite 35 percent shooting because Asheville shot only 20 percent, including 1 of 11 from 3-point range.

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