by Brian Wilmer @SportsMatters
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Everybody likes a little extra credit before exams. Winthrop got that Tuesday night, to say the least.
The Eagles coasted into a 10-day exam break by placing six players in double figures, finishing off a 106-63 drubbing of Division III Greensboro College before 916 fans at Winthrop Coliseum Tuesday night.
“We had one day to prepare for a team that, I think, plays a very unique style. In their division, they’re one of the leaders in the country in turning people over. They’re one of the leaders in their division in getting offensive rebounds, and those have been two areas that we’ve had to clean up,” said Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey. “I thought our guys’ approach was really good (in practice) yesterday, and they obviously had a lot of respect for our opponent and took care of business tonight.”
Greensboro (3-2) shot quite well to start the game, hanging in well with its higher-division foe. The Pride and Eagles connected on 18 of their first 34 combined tries from the field, as Winthrop’s lead was a mere seven points at the second media break.
That would be the last time Greensboro could make that claim.
Winthrop (5-3) tore away from there, going on a 40-8 burst between that break and the first respite of the second half. The Eagles knocked down 52.4 percent (22-for-42) of their first-half attempts, generating 26 points off 19 Pride turnovers. Five of those turnovers came on steals by sophomore guard Adam Pickett, who provided quite the boost on both ends of the floor in 12 minutes of opening-stanza action.
“I thought he gave us a big spurt. That’s his thing. He’s like Vinnie Johnson from the Pistons back in the day. He’s like a microwave, because he heats up really fast,” said Kelsey of Pickett. “He plays on the attack, and he is going downhill. He attacks the rim, and that’s something that we need. I think he can be a catalyst, in terms of giving us one more offensive weapon.”
The Eagles continued to pull away, keeping their lead in the thirties – and eventually forties – by being successful at many of the small things that had eluded them over the past few games. Winthrop tallied 20 fast-break points on the evening, after having collected just 13 in the season’s first seven games. 15 offensive boards found their way into the hands of Pat Kelsey’s charges. Perhaps most importantly, the forced turnovers that are so much a staple of Kelsey’s preferred pack line defense returned. Winthrop denied the post and jumped passing lanes, generating 28 turnovers that directly led to 35 points.
“It kind of started, I think, when Adam (Pickett) came in the game,” said Kelsey of his team’s defensive success. “(Virginia) Coach (Tony) Bennett, if he was sitting here today, (would say) the pack line is at its best when you’re applying great ball pressure. Adam gives us that, and I think it kind of rubbed off on the other guys, getting into the ball a little bit and getting deflections. I
think that was a huge positive.”
Greensboro shot 40 percent (28-for-70) on the game, as one of its calling cards encountered some issues. The Pride, known as a solid team in converting from distance, drained just three of 19 tries from beyond the arc. Forward Donavan Griffith largely carried his team, scoring 26 points on 11-for-18 shooting in just 25 minutes. Griffith also tied for his team’s lead in rebounds, hauling in five boards.
Keon Johnson paced Winthrop with 20 points, knocking down 7-of-11 tries in just 23 minutes. Forwards Xavier Cooks, Tevin Prescott and Josh Ferguson added 13 apiece. Pickett and Joshua Davenport added 11. Ferguson, a true freshman, continues to see his minutes increase, and tonight drew raves from his coach.
“I’m so bullish on Josh. I think he has such a huge upside. As a freshman, especially as a freshman big man, sometimes it takes a little bit longer to come along,” said Kelsey. “To see him get out there and get loose a little bit offensively and make some shots, you can see his versatility stepping out and shooting the ball. He goes up and gets two-handed rebounds that make noises […] He’s going to be a terrific player here.”
Greensboro will not wait long to return to action, as the Pride return home to face Johnson & Wales University in Hanes Gymnasium Wednesday night. Winthrop will travel to Hampton, Va. on Saturday, December 17, to face the Hampton University Pirates. That game is scheduled for a 2:00 (Eastern) start.
WINTHROP 106, GREENSBORO COLLEGE 63
GREENSBORO (3-2): Cunningham Jr. 4-8 1-2 9, Gatling 4-13 0-0 8, Griffith 11-18 2-2 26, Hawkins 0-2 0-1 0, Marry 3-7 0-0 6, Outing 1-2 0-0 2, Barnett 1-2 0-0 2, Corbin 1-2 1-2 3, Maddox 1-5 0-0 2, Baggio 0-3 0-0 0, Tilley 1-2 0-0 2, Fumbanks 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 28-70 4-7 63.
WINTHROP (5-3): Perkins 4-10 0-0 9, Johnson 7-11 2-2 20, A. Broman 1-5 0-0 2, Cooks 3-8 5-6 13, Prescott 6-8 1-1 13, Okeke 1-2 0-0 2, Blake 0-1 1-2 1, Hill 1-1 0-2 2, B. Broman 2-4 0-0 5, Pickett 5-9 0-0 11, Ferguson 5-9 1-2 13, Poole 2-3 0-0 4, Sadlon 0-1 0-0 0, Davenport 5-8 1-1 11. Totals 42-80 11-16 106.
Halftime—Winthrop 54, Greensboro 26. 3-Point Goals—Greensboro 3-19 (Gatling 0-5, Griffith 2-5, Outing 0-1, Barnett 0-1, Maddox 0-2, Baggio 0-2, Fumbanks 1-3), Winthrop 11-27 (Perkins 1-4, Johnson 4-6, A. Broman 0-3, Cooks 2-4, B. Broman 1-3, Pickett 1-2, Ferguson 2-3, Sadlon 0-1, Davenport 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Greensboro 39 (Griffith/Tilley 5), Winthrop 46
(Prescott/Ferguson 8). Assists—Greensboro 5 (Gatling 3), Winthrop 18 (Johnson/Blake/B. Broman 3). Total Fouls—Greensboro 19, Winthrop 12. Technical—None. A—916.
Points in the Paint—Winthrop 54, Greensboro 38. Points off Turnovers—Winthrop 35, Greensboro 18. Second-Chance Points—Winthrop 14, Greensboro 10. Fast Break Points—Winthrop 20, Greensboro 8. Bench Points—Winthrop 49, Greensboro 14.