ROCK HILL, S.C. – It’s good to have a short memory.

48 hours had not yet elapsed since Winthrop lost at Liberty, a 77-61 result that led Eagle coach Pat Kelsey to remark Saturday that “we got our butts kicked”, and co-Big South leader Radford awaited the Eagles in Winthrop Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Winthrop landed three scorers in double figures, led by Xavier Cooks’ 22, pulling level with the Highlanders in the league standings with a 75-57 victory in front of 1,980 fans.

“(On Thursday), it was a really tough locker room.  Our guys were very disappointed,” said Kelsey after the game.  “I just credit our guys for flipping the switch and turning the page, and turning their attention — in a short amount of time — to a very potent team, and a very, very good team.”

The sides engaged in a first-half tug-of-war.  A 6-0 run gave the Highlanders a 14-13 advantage midway through the opening stanza, followed by a 10-2 Winthrop burst that extended the home margin to seven.  Radford scored six more unanswered to again slice the lead to a point, before a 13-3 Winthrop run that was punctuated by a Xavier Cooks triple.  Cooks turned to the crowd and signaled the made three, which drew a loud roar.  A Cooks stuff on the defensive side drew an arguably larger roar, sending the Eagles to the intermission up by 11 at 36-25.

The first half concluded with 22 combined turnovers, leading to 24 points off said turnovers.  Winthrop (14-8, 8-4 Big South) shot 54.5 percent (12-for-22) in the opening twenty, limiting Radford to 36 percent (9-for-25) from the floor.

Radford (15-10, 8-4) clipped the Winthrop lead to nine with a run-out layup at the 16:22 mark of the second half, and the teams traded baskets on the next several possessions.  The homestanding Eagles then unleashed another run, this one a 12-2 charge that afforded Winthrop its second-largest lead of the contest at 60-41 with just over 10 minutes remaining.  Winthrop took over from there on defense, keeping the Highlanders at arm’s length.  The Eagles countered each Radford run, much as Liberty did to them two days prior.  The Highlanders drew no closer than 15 points before the final horn.

“If you’re not getting stops, and you’re not scoring, that’s when the lead tends to swell,” said Radford coach Mike Jones.  “I credit their defense.  I thought they worked really hard and made everything tough on us.  We didn’t make the right reads, and we didn’t certainly make the right reads quick enough to take advantage of what the defense was giving us.”

Radford forward Ed Polite Jr. led the Highlanders in scoring on the day, tabulating 18 points despite being held to 6-of-15 shooting.  Polite Jr. knocked down three of his six tries from distance, grabbing eight boards along the way to pace his club.  Bradford provided the only other double-digit total for the Highlanders, hitting 4-of-7 tries from the field to finish with 11.

Cooks made history during Saturday’s game, becoming the first-ever Big South player to accumulate lofty milestones in five separate statistical categories.  The Australian senior snatched six boards and dished four assists to go with his team-leading point total.

Winthrop guard Bjorn Broman added 16, with forward Josh Ferguson compiling 10 points and seven boards.  The lanky sophomore post battled what the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald’s Bret McCormick dubbed Radford’s “girth advantage” throughout the game, drawing praise from Kelsey in his remarks to the media.

“It was a big bounce-back game (for Josh).  He was disappointed (Thursday).  He didn’t play to the standards that he’s set this year.  He’s become a really, really good player in this league, and a really good player for us,” remarked Kelsey.  “The shape he’s in now, and his ability to run the floor and play prolonged minutes … he’s really emerged in this league.”

So, could the short turnaround actually have helped Kelsey’s club?

“Since we won, I think yeah, absolutely,” said Kelsey, with a bit of a smile.  “It was nice to get right back out there.  We had a really bad taste in our mouth.”

Both teams are slated for home dates Wednesday night.  Radford will host High Point in the Dedmon Center.  Winthrop welcomes Presbyterian to the Winthrop Coliseum.  Both tilts are slated for a 7:00 (Eastern) jump.


RADFORD (15-10, 8-4 BIG SOUTH): Polite Jr. 6-15 3-5 18, Phillips 3-4 1-2 7, Jones 2-9 0-0 4, Bradford 4-7 1-2 11, Hicks 1-4 0-0 2, Owens 0-1 0-0 0, Cooper 1-1 0-0 3, Tanner 2-3 0-0 6, Fields Jr. 3-5 0-0 7, Butts IV 0-2 0-0 0, Cousin 0-3 0-0 0, Holland 0-1 0-0 0, Saunders 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 5-9 57.

WINTHROP (14-8, 8-4): Cooks 8-13 4-6 22, Ferguson 4-6 2-3 10, A. Broman 3-7 1-1 8, B. Broman 4-5 5-5 18, Pickett 3-8 0-0 6, Blake 1-1 0-0 3, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Falden 1-2 0-0 3, Ukaegbu 1-1 2-2 4, Awad 1-2 0-0 3, Scerbinskis 0-0 0-0 0, Poole 0-0 0-0 0, Erps 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-46 14-17 75.

Halftime — Winthrop 36-25. 3-Point Goals—Radford 6-23 (Polite Jr. 3-6, Jones 0-3, Bradford 2-2, Hicks 0-3, Owens 0-1, Cooper 1-1, Tanner 1-2, Fields Jr. 1-2, Butts IV 0-1, Cousin 0-2), Winthrop 9-18 (Cooks 2-2 A. Broman 1-3, B. Broman 3-4, Pickett 0-4, Blake 1-1, Hill 0-1, Falden 1-1, Awad 1-2). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds —Winthrop 29 (Ferguson 7), Radford 26 (Polite Jr. 8). Assists — Winthrop 15 (Pickett 5), Radford 8 (Polite Jr./Jones 2). Total Fouls — Radford 15, Winthrop 11. Technical — NA. A — 1980.

Points in the Paint —Winthrop 26, Radford 18. Points off Turnovers —Radford 22, Winthrop 20. Second-Chance Points — Radford 15, Winthrop 10. Fast Break Points — Radford 7, Winthrop 2. Bench Points — Radford 15, Winthrop 13.