ROCK HILL, S.C. – When Presbyterian and Winthrop played each other in PC’s Templeton Center nearly three weeks ago, the Blue Hose put away the Eagles with a 55-point second half in a 99-91 victory. Wednesday, the near-opposite happened on Winthrop’s home deck.
Winthrop shot just over 53 percent in a 47-point second half, while holding Presbyterian to just over 32 percent, turning away the Blue Hose, 93-85, in front of an announced crowd of 1,202 at Winthrop Coliseum.
“They’re a very, very, very efficient offensive team. They’re very good offensively,” said Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey of the Blue Hose. “Down there (in the January 26th game), they scored almost 100 points, and (shot) 56 percent from the field, or something like that. To hold them to 32 percent in the second half and 39 for the game is very encouraging, and I told our players that.”
Presbyterian (15-12, 7-5 Big South) took the fight to Winthrop early, jumping out to a 16-9 lead at the first media break. The lead swelled to 14 just over two minutes later, and held in double digits for another three minutes.
“I was as upset in the first half as I’ve been in quite a while,” stated Kelsey. “With a veteran team – and we’ve had a couple of mishaps, like down there (at PC), with attention to detail and the scouting report, and that’s all we talked about … and then, to see them come out and get baskets early on based on what their bio says on their scouting report is very, very frustrating. We had (some) ‘aggressive counseling’ sessions in those huddles there in the first couple of medias.”
Winthrop (17-8, 9-3) then went on a 6-0 run to slice the margin to six, and after Presbyterian worked the lead back into double figures, put forth an even more impressive burst. A 10-0 Eagle run, keyed by two Bjorn Broman threes, drew the game level at 37. The sides battled to the interval, with neither able to separate beyond five points before Presbyterian took a tenuous 48-46 advantage to the break.
Charles Falden splashed a triple just 46 seconds into the second half, providing Winthrop with its first lead of the night at 49-48. The teams traded punches until the 14-minute mark, where a Francois Lewis layup again knotted the proceedings at 62. The tug-of-war continued throughout the half, until a 6-0 Winthrop run broke a 79-all tie at the six-minute mark, and provided a margin from which Presbyterian was unable to recover.
“(CBS announcer and former player) Clark Kellogg used to call it ‘spurtability’, and I think we have good ‘spurtability’,” said Kelsey. “We got a nice spurt there at the end.”
“It was our defense (that keyed the run),” said Winthrop guard Nych Smith. “When we emphasize (stops), we’re dangerous, because the stops turn to offense. That’s when we’re at our best, is when we’re getting stops.”
“We just couldn’t get stops,” said Presbyterian coach Dustin Kerns of his team’s response to that run. “Credit Winthrop. They’re very explosive offensively … We couldn’t keep them out of the lane. We just couldn’t get stops when we needed to get stops.”
Kelsey praised his team’s defense in the closing twenty minutes, as the Eagles held Presbyterian to nearly 15 percent lower shooting from the field and nearly 47 percent lower from three in the final period.
“How we defended in the second half was probably as good as we’ve been all year long,” said Kelsey, while also noting the lockdown effort on Lewis, who scored 19 in the first half, but just four in the second. “The way he got off, the start he got off to, I thought he was gonna have 50 or 60, or something.”
Kerns cited Winthrop switching to a four-guard lineup in the second half, and added, “They were switching a little bit with (Lewis), and denied him. (Their) playing smaller allowed that. He would kind of go down to post, and try to post a smaller guard, and we had a difficult time getting him the ball down there.”
Lewis and Adam Flagler paced Presbyterian and tied for the led among all scorers with 23 apiece, with each canning five threes. Freshman forward Cory Hightower tallied 16 points and snagged eight boards, while senior guard Davon Bell finished just two rebounds shy of a triple-double. Bell scored 10 points, dished out 13 assists and grabbed eight caroms.
Adam Pickett contributed a double-double for Winthrop, scoring 23 points of his own and grabbing 12 misses. Smith added 22, while Broman logged 19 and Falden 14. Winthrop’s hot second half resulted in their hitting 33-of-64 shots for the game (51.6 percent), connecting on 13 of their 30 tries from distance (43.3 percent).
Both teams resume Big South play Saturday afternoon. Presbyterian hosts Campbell, with tip time in the Templeton Center set for 4:30 (Eastern). Winthrop travels to Gardner-Webb for a tilt with the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Game time from Paul Porter Arena is slated for 5:00.
WINTHROP 93, PRESBYTERIAN 85
PRESBYTERIAN (15-12, 7-5 BIG SOUTH): Hightower 4-10 7-7 16, Lewis 7-15 4-5 23, Martin 1-2 1-1 3, Bell 3-17 4-4 10, Flagler 9-19 0-0 23, Shubert 0-0 0-0 0, Crouch 1-4 3-3 5, Drake 0-0 0-0 0, Younger 2-2 0-0 5, Kay 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-69 19-20 85.
WINTHROP (17-8, 9-3 BIG SOUTH): Ferguson 0-4 0-0 0, Smith 8-15 4-6 22, Anumba 1-2 3-4 5, Falden 4-10 0-0 14, Broman 6-8 3-4 19, Pickett 9-11 3-3 23, Ukaegbu 2-3 1-2 5, Zunic 1-5 0-2 2, Awad 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 33-64 14-21 93.
Halftime — Presbyterian 48-46. 3-Point Goals—Presbyterian 12-31 (Hightower 1-2, Lewis 5-8, Bell 0-5, Flagler 5-13, Crouch 0-2, Younger 1-1), Winthrop 13-30 (Ferguson 0-2, Smith 2-4, Anumba 0-1, Falden 4-5, Broman 4-6, Pickett 2-3, Zunic 0-3, Awad 1-6). Fouled Out — NA. Rebounds — Winthrop 43 (Pickett 12), Presbyterian 35 (Hightower/Lewis/Bell 8). Assists —Winthrop 16 (Broman 5), Presbyterian 15 (Bell 13). Total Fouls — Presbyterian 19, Winthrop 17. Technical — NA. A — 1202.
Points in the Paint —Winthrop 38, Presbyterian 26. Points off Turnovers —Presbyterian 24, Winthrop 12. Second-Chance Points — Winthrop 11, Presbyterian 6. Fast Break Points — Presbyterian 8, Winthrop 6. Bench Points — Winthrop 33, Presbyterian 10.
CURRENT BIG SOUTH STANDINGS