PEMBROKE -- Visiting Limestone captured three of the first four matches of the night to stake claim to an early 10-3 lead, but 13th-ranked UNCP won five of the last six matches, including three bonus-point victories, to turn back the Saints, 27-13, on Tuesday evening in the English E. Jones Center.
The victory helped the Braves (8-6) grab its first winning season under head coach Othello Johnson, while also snapping a three-match losing streak in the series with Limestone (7-9). The Saints wrap up their dual meet season with three-straight setbacks.
Eric Rholetter posted a convincing 13-2 major decision over Jake Smith at 125 pounds, and Ross Benzel used a late takedown to register a 3-2 win at 133 pounds over Dontae Brown, to help the Saints grab an early 7-0 lead, but all-American Daniel Ownbey stopped the bleeding with a high-energy 6-4 decision over Devon Jackson at 141 pounds to get the Black & Gold on the board. Limestone would stretch its lead back out to seven points, 10-3, moments later with Theran Goodale's tight 4-3 win at 149 pounds over Reggie Allen, but the momentum quickly turned to the Braves for the remainder of the night.
Justin Pencook's 22-7 technical fall win over Austin Koile at 157 pounds cut UNCP's deficit back to 10-8 heading into the intermission, and the hosts took the meet's final lead minutes out of the break when Blaze Shade registered a first-period pin (2:55) Ryan Buchanan. Defending national champion Mike Williams continued to rack up the team points for the Braves with a 10-2 major decision over Demetre Liguori at 174 pounds, before the Saints finally answered with a last-second takedown that pushed Blake Steiert past Stuart Nadeau (2-1) at 184 pounds.
The Braves would win each of the final two matches of the night to provide the final. Brach Walker tallied his first pin since early December 34 seconds into the second period of his 197-pound bout with Justin Tribble, while Chris Giddens scored a big second period and then held off Aaron Rowe in the heavyweight bout en route to a 5-4 decision.
The Braves will put the caps on their 2012-13 dual meet schedule on Thursday when they travel to central South Carolina to battle top-ranked Newberry (17-2). Wrestling action is set to get underway at 7 p.m. inside Newberry's Eleazer Arena.
125: Eric Rholetter (LC) maj. dec. Jake Smith (UNCP) M 13-2
133: Ross Benzel (LC) dec. Dontae Brown (UNCP) D 3-2
141: No. 1 Daniel Ownbey (UNCP) dec. Devon Jackson (LC) D 6-4
149: Theran Goodale (LC) dec. Reggie Allen (UNCP) D 4-3
157: Justin Pencook (UNCP) tech. fall Austin Koile (LC) TF 22-7; 6:14
165: Blaze Shade (165) pinned Ryan Buchanan (LC) F 2:55
174: No. 1 Mike Williams (UNCP) maj. dec. Demetre Liguori (LC) M 10-2
184: Blake Steiert (LC) dec. Stuart Nadeau (UNCP) D 2-1
197: Brach Walker (UNCP) pinned Justin Tribble (LC) F 3:34
285: Chris Giddens (UNCP) dec. Aaron Rowe (LC) D 5-4