ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey speaks in local radio advertisements about his Eagles’ exciting brand of basketball. For those who took in Saturday afternoon’s contest with Hampton, they got all the excitement they could handle.
Josh Ferguson and Nych Smith scored 20 apiece, joining three other Eagles in double figures, guiding their club to a fast-paced, 101-91 result over the visiting Pirates, before an announced crowd of 1,466 at the Winthrop Coliseum. The final marked the first time Winthrop has broken the 100-point mark against a Division I team this season.
“What I’m proud of with our guys is how evenly dispersed our shot attempts were, and our scoring in this game,” said Kelsey. “When we’re at our best, and everything’s firing at the right time, and firing right, all five guys are dangerous threats on the floor. When our five man (Ferguson) goes 4-for-8 from three and 6-for-11 from the field, that’s difficult to guard.”
Hampton (10-13, 5-5 Big South) raced out to a 10-6 advantage in the game’s first three minutes, getting the better of the battle of the quick tempo the teams prefer. That advantage quickly disappeared, though, as Winthrop (16-8, 8-3) got back-to-back threes from Micheal Anumba and Nych Smith that sparked a 27-12 burst from the home side. The Pirates gradually battled back from a deficit that reached as high as 13 to draw within four at the interval.
Pirate guards Jermaine Marrow and Kalin Fisher helped keep their team within striking distance, contributing 30 of Hampton’s 43 first-half points and knocking down 12 of the visitors’ 17 makes in the opening 20.
“Marrow and Fisher are as explosive a scoring combination as there is in our league, and it’s hard to guard both of them,” said Kelsey. “Our game plan was to try to make them labor, try to make them tough, contested shots … They’re good. Really good. I give them a lot of credit.”
The Winthrop advantage hovered perilously close to vanishing on the first Pirate possession of the second half, as forward Trevond Barnes took off from the left baseline and threw down a thunderous dunk that trimmed the margin to just one bucket. Barnes then followed an Anumba three for Winthrop with a bucket of his own to again slice the lead to one possession.
That would be the last time the Pirates would draw within one trip, however.
Winthrop unleashed a 16-5 burst off that bucket, opening up a 14-point lead from which Hampton proved incapable of recovering. The lead hovered in that vicinity, before creeping as high as 18 after the Pirate bench was assessed a technical foul. The Pirates gradually worked their way back into the contest, using a 6-0 run to finally shave the lead back to 10. Hampton could draw no closer, however, as Winthrop salted away the contest.
Marrow tallied 32 to pace Hampton and all scorers, the sixth time he has reached the 30-point mark in a contest this season. Fisher added 29, a season-high. Barnes contributed 11. The Pirates connected on 35-of-74 tries (47.3 percent), despite knocking down just 34.5 percent (10-for-29) from distance. Hampton forced 17 Winthrop turnovers, converting those into 18 points.
Ferguson and Smith’s 20 paced a Winthrop offense that hit 48.4 percent of its shots (30-for-62) from the field. The pair also knocked down seven of the Eagles’ 17 triples on the day, which vaults Winthrop into the national lead for three-point conversions overall and per game. Eagle guard Bjorn Broman added 18, with Charles Falden scoring 16 and Anumba 14. Winthrop also hauled in 48 rebounds (15 offensive), against Hampton’s 29.
“That was big for us (the rebounding advantage),” said Ferguson. “That’s something we always stress, offensive rebounding, so we try to crash (the boards) every time. You smell blood, you want to keep going. They try to start boxing back (out) harder, but if we just keep going, we’ll get a few.”
“We’re a good rebounding team. We’ve got tough kids,” added Kelsey. “We fight and pursue the ball, and that’s a strength of ours, for sure.”
Both sides return to Big South play Wednesday night. Hampton travels to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on Campbell. Tip time from Gore Arena is set for 7:00 (Eastern). Winthrop hosts Presbyterian, with that game also slated to commence at 7:00.
WINTHROP 101, HAMPTON 91
HAMPTON (10-13, 5-5 BIG SOUTH): Carver 1-3 1-2 3, Barnes 5-7 0-0 11, Marrow 13-25 3-5, Fisher 10-22 6-9, Mitchell 3-4 0-0 7, Smoot 0-0 0-0 0, Bracey 2-6 1-1 6, Heckstall 0-3 0-0 0, Griffin 1-3 0-0 3, Stanley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 35-74 11-17 91.
WINTHROP (16-8, 8-3 BIG SOUTH): Ferguson 6-11 4-6 20, Anumba 3-8 6-7 14, Falden 6-10 0-0 16, Broman 5-8 6-6 16, Pickett 3-8 1-1 7, Smith 5-10 7-8 20, Schumacher 0-0 0-0 0, Pupavac 0-0 0-0, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Ukaegbu 0-1 0-2 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Zunic 1-1 0-0 3, Awad 1-4 0-0 3, Scerbinskis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 24-30 101.
Halftime — Winthrop 47-43. 3-Point Goals—Hampton 10-29 (Carver 0-1, Barnes 1-2, Marrow 3-8, Fisher 3-9, Mitchell 1-1, Bracey 1-4, Heckstall 0-1, Griffin 1-3), Winthrop 17-33 (Ferguson 4-8, Anumba 2-3, Falden 4-5, Broman 2-4, Smith 3-7, Zunic 1-1, Awad 1-4, Scerbinskis 0-1). Fouled Out — Mitchell (HU). Rebounds — Winthrop 48 (Ferguson/Pickett 8), Hampton 29 (Marrow 5). Assists —Winthrop 16 (Smith 6), Hampton 12 (Marrow 3). Total Fouls — Hampton 19, Winthrop 16. Technical — NA. A — 1466.
Points in the Paint —Hampton 40, Winthrop 26. Points off Turnovers —Hampton 18, Winthrop 5. Second-Chance Points — Winthrop 16, Hampton 11. Fast Break Points — Hampton 11, Winthrop 8. Bench Points — Winthrop 26, Hampton 9.
CURRENT BIG SOUTH STANDINGS