BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – One of the first lessons children learn is about the value of sharing. Gardner-Webb remembered that lesson Saturday, with great results.
Freshman Jose Perez racked up another double-double, while guard Christian Turner – who, himself, is normally noted for sharing the basketball – contributed several key, late buckets, as Gardner-Webb shared the excitement of an 87-74, overtime victory over Hampton before an announced crowd of 1,250 at Paul Porter Arena Saturday night.
“I’m proud of the guys for closing it out,” said Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft. “(It was) good to see them fighting down the stretch … Thankfully, there at the end, we toughened up a little bit.”
Gardner-Webb (12-7, 2-2 Big South) raced out to leads of 10-2 and 15-8, before Hampton charged back to draw the game level at 16. The back-and-forth struggle continued for a bit, before a 9-2 Pirate run stretched the Hampton lead back to seven. The Runnin’ Bulldogs battled back over the final five minutes of the first half, but the Pirates took a 36-32 lead to the interval.
Hampton (7-10, 2-2) started the second half on a strong note, with a forceful Trey Carver dunk opening the scoring. A brief Gardner-Webb burst slimmed the margin to a single bucket, before Hampton took just over three minutes to extend the lead back to double digits. As quickly as the lead appeared, however, it disappeared, on the strength of an 11-1 Gardner-Webb run. Perez splashed a triple to again tie the game, then hit another just after a Pirate basket to give the Runnin’ Bulldogs their first second-half lead.
“I’ve been working on my shot every day, twice a day, because I’ve been struggling throughout conference (play),” said Perez. “(The coaches) just told me to keep shooting it. Fortunately, two of them went back-to-back, and those were big.”
The home side pushed its lead as high as five, before the visitors rallied back and tied the game. After Gardner-Webb took a three-point lead, a Hampton free throw drew the Pirates within two, and two Trevond Barnes conversions from the stripe tied the game for the ninth time. After Gardner-Webb’s final attempt from the field near the buzzer would not fall, the schools headed to overtime, tied at 70.
The extra time did little to slow down the Runnin’ Bulldogs, as Perez caught a dish from David Efianayi on the left wing and swished a three-pointer. The conversion gave Gardner-Webb a lead it would never surrender, with an Efianayi conversion finally stretching the lead to double digits. Turner accounted for seven of his club’s 17 overtime points.
“I just wanted to be confident,” said Turner. “My teammates and my coaching staff really believe in me, so I just wanted to step up and make big plays.”
Gardner-Webb’s concerted effort to stop Hampton’s Jermaine Marrow clearly paid off for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Marrow, who came into the game as the nation’s fifth-leading scorer, was held to 14 points on 3-for-18 shooting from the field.
“I thought Nate Johnson did a great job on Marrow for most of the game, and some other guys were on him, as well,” said Craft. “(We were) just forcing him into tough shots. David Efianayi was on him late, and that was key for us.”
Efianayi’s foul trouble late in the game provided an unforeseen benefit for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, along with another example of sharing paying off for the home side. Turner came into the game to spell Efianayi, who had four fouls, after Johnson had fouled out.
“Dave was guarding Marrow, and we liked him on Marrow, but he picked up his fourth foul, so we wanted to get a different guy on Marrow. CT is one of our better on-ball defenders, so that’s why we put CT in, so he could get that matchup,” stated Craft. “We didn’t necessarily put him in there to go make those clutch baskets that he made, but man, he sure delivered. I was really happy for him, and proud for him. He’s a guy that you just root for, because he’s an amazing kid.”
Marrow finished the game as one of three Pirates in double figures. Guard Kalin Fisher paced the Pirates with a double-double (17 points, 10 boards), while Marrow joined Akim Mitchell with 14 apiece. Hampton snagged 50 rebounds (16 offensive), despite being held to just 33.3 percent from the floor and 17.4 percent from distance.
Perez led all scorers with 21, hauling in 11 rebounds. Three additional Runnin’ Bulldogs tallied double figures, with DJ Laster adding 17, Efianayi 16, and Johnson 15. Gardner-Webb assisted on 18 of 27 made baskets, and, incredibly, committed just one turnover in the second half and overtime.
The win was the 100th in Craft’s career at Gardner-Webb. “It feels like a good win. You do start to think about the different guys that played for you for the last six years,” said Craft. “Our two assistant coaches that have been with me for every one of those 100 wins, Paul Hemrick and Jeremy Luther, they deserve all that credit, as well, and just the good players that have played for us.”
Both clubs are off until next Thursday. Hampton returns home to face USC Upstate, with a scheduled tip time of 7:00 (Eastern). Gardner-Webb travels to Rock Hill, South Carolina, to face Winthrop in the ESPNU Big South wildcard telecast. That game will also tip at 7:00.
GARDNER-WEBB 87, HAMPTON 74
HAMPTON (7-10, 2-2 BIG SOUTH): Carver 4-6 0-0 8, Barnes 0-3 2-2 2, Marrow 3-18 8-13 14, Fisher 4-16 7-9 17, Mitchell 5-12 3-3 14, Smoot 1-1 0-2 2, Bracey 1-5 2-2 5, Griffin 2-4 0-0 4, Stanley 3-4 2-3 8, Oakley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-69 24-34 74.
GARDNER-WEBB (12-7, 2-2 BIG SOUTH): Laster 6-11 4-6 17, Turner 2-2 3-4 8, Perez 6-17 5-8 21, Johnson 4-10 5-6 15, Efianayi 5-8 5-9 16, Cornwall 3-6 1-2 8, Jamison 1-5 0-0 2, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, Dufeal 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 23-35 87.
Halftime — Hampton 36-32. 3-Point Goals—Hampton 4-23 (Barnes 0-1, Marrow 0-5, Fisher 2-8, Mitchell 1-5, Bracey 1-2, Grifin 0-2), Laster 1-1, Turner 1-1, Perez 4-8, Johnson 2-5, Efianayi 1-2, Cornwall 1-2, Jamison 0-2, Dufeal 0-1). Fouled Out — Barnes (HU), Johnson (GWU). Rebounds — Hampton 50 (Fisher 10), Gardner-Webb 42 (Perez 11). Assists — Gardner-Webb 18 (Efianayi 6), Hampton 12 (Marrow 7). Total Fouls — Gardner-Webb 25, Hampton 23. Technical — Mitchell (HU), Perez (GWU). A — 1290.
Points in the Paint —Hampton 38, Gardner-Webb 32. Points off Turnovers —Hampton 15, Gardner-Webb 11. Second-Chance Points — Hampton 17, Gardner-Webb 6. Fast Break Points — Gardner-Webb 10, Hampton 9. Bench Points—Hampton 19, Gardner-Webb 10.
CURRENT BIG SOUTH STANDINGS