ROCK HILL, S.C. — Last year, Winthrop hosted Division 3 Pfeiffer, and the Falcons hoisted 89 shots — 60 from three — in a 134-99 Eagle victory. This year’s contest yielded a similar result, even if the numbers weren’t quite as eye-popping.
Winthrop placed seven players in double figures and connected on 51-of-90 tries from the field, using a strong second half to again put away Pfeiffer, 127-83, before an announced crowd of 1,144 at Winthrop Coliseum Monday night.
“They lit us up last year,” said Kelsey. “We won the game by (35), but they hung a hundred on us in our gym. It’s almost like when they walked off the floor, they felt like they won. They were shaking our hands, and they had more smiles than our line did, because they hung a hundred on us. We were gonna do our darn best to make sure they didn’t do that tonight.”
Pfeiffer (4-2) employed the same frenetic pace it utilized last season in Winthrop Coliseum, averaging 13 seconds per possession in getting 71 shots in the air and attempting to speed up the Eagles to their preferred pace. The visiting Falcons tried to trade punches with Kelsey’s club through much of the first half, slicing the margin to five points on two separate occasions.
Winthrop (4-3) closed the half with a 59-44 lead, after leading by as many as 18 in the period.
The visitors opened the second half by connecting on just three of their first 15 shots, which allowed Winthrop to stretch the lead to 25 at the 13-minute mark. The advantage stretched to 31 with 10:33 to play, then ballooned to 40 with 6:52 remaining. Pfeiffer was never able to draw closer from there.
Winthrop placed three starters and four reserves in double figures on the evening. Forward D.J. Burns tallied a career-high 19 points and hauled in eight boards in just 16 minutes of play off the bench to pace the Eagles, while guard Josh Corbin added 16 in 17 reserve minutes. Kyle Zunic’s 13 and Jamal King’s 11 rounded out the reserves in double figures.
Forward Josh Ferguson led Eagle starters with 14 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Guard Russell Jones Jr. tallied 13 and dished out five assists, while guard Hunter Hale contributed 10.
Guard Taylan Rowe led Pfeiffer with 15 points in 14 minutes of play. Juwan Blanton totaled 10, with eight coming in a perfect day at the free throw line. The Falcons played 17 players in the game.
Winthrop next returns to the floor Friday night against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. That game is slated to tip at 7:00 (Eastern) and will be shown on the ACC Network.
Inside the Numbers
- Zunic and fellow guard Chandler Vaudrin peered at the stat sheet when they sat down to do media, and immediately started talking to each other. “We had 31 assists to 11 turnovers,” they said, among other things. This fits in with what Kelsey calls the “Golden Principle” (which we’ve discussed in this space before), that states the team should get more offensive rebounds than it does turnovers, along with keeping a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and other factors.
“Our Golden Principle is to get more offensive rebounds than turnovers,” said Vaudrin. “For us, when we have 31 assists (and) 11 turnovers, that’s like, ridiculously good. 31 assists, 16 offensive rebounds, (and) only 11 turnovers, that’s like, kind of everything that we try and do each game.”
“We love playing together,” added Zunic. “This team, we just expect guys to step up and make shots, and we were finding them open, so that’s pretty cool.”
- Zunic also touched on the fast pace employed by the Falcons. He joked to former Winthrop guard Bjorn Broman, who was part of the radio broadcast, that it “wasn’t as bad as last year.” Zunic talked after the game about his team’s attention to detail on defense.
“It was just kind of the quickness of the game, you know? They’re a great team that plays fast,” said Zunic. “We knew that, and we had to bring that transition defense. We did that today. I think we really did well in getting back in transition, (and) making sure that we were talking to each other in transition. I thought it was just a great game on our behalf.”
To Zunic’s point, the Eagles allowed just 12 fast-break points on the night.
- As we mentioned earlier, Winthrop took 90 shots, hitting 51. That number actually eclipsed Pfeiffer’s 89 attempts from last year’s game. Vaudrin opined on the likelihood of that becoming the norm for the Eagles.
“90 shots is a lot,” said Vaudrin. “We probably won’t do that every game, but we’re gonna try and get as many field goal attempts as possible.”
- Vaudrin led the nation in triple-doubles two years ago at Division 2 Walsh College before transferring to Winthrop. The 6-foot-7 point guard notched four triple-doubles in 2017-18, which was the highest number for any classification. He finished tonight’s game with nine points, eight boards, and eight dimes. I asked him about whether or not he realized how close he was to his first Division 1 triple-double.
“No, I was just trying to get comfortable again,” said Vaudrin. “I really hadn’t played great the last couple of games, and for me, I was just trying to be as clean as possible. I see that I was pretty close, but it was just a really good win for us.”
- Winthrop limited Pfeiffer, which clearly appeared to be worn down as the game progressed, despite multiple line-change substitutions, to 25.7 percent (9-for-35) in the second half, an outcome Zunic called “a big-time effort by our boys.” Winthrop, conversely, dropped a blistering 63.4 percent of its 41 second-half shots, including 8-of-18 from distance.
- Hustle stats:
- Points in the paint: Winthrop 64, Pfeiffer 16 (as one might expect, given the size differences)
- Points off turnovers: Winthrop 26, Pfeiffer 8 (Winthrop forced 18 Falcon turnovers)
- Second-chance points: Winthrop 19, Pfeiffer 12
- Fast-break points: Winthrop 17, Pfeiffer 12
- Bench points: Winthrop 76, Pfeiffer 51
WINTHROP 127, PFEIFFER 83
PFEIFFER (4-2): Scott 3-7 2-4 8, Avington 1-5 2-3 4, David 3-10 0-0 9, Miller 1-8 1-2 3, Sabb 1-5 5-6 8, Savoy 1-5 2-2 5, Bradsher 0-4 4-4 4, Simmons 0-6 4-4 4, Bailey 0-1 0-0 0, Welch 0-1 0-2 0, Ruggiero 0-0 0-2 0, Rowe 5-7 0-0 15, Dudley 1-5 0-0 3, Larson 2-2 0-0 6, Blanton 1-4 8-8 10, Byrd 2-2 0-2 4, Rhodes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-71 28-39 83.
WINTHROP (4-3): Ferguson 6-11 1-3 14, Claxton 2-2 1-3 5, Jones Jr. 4-11 3-4 13, Hale 4-10 0-0 10, Vaudrin 4-5 0-0 9, Pupavac 0-0 0-0 0, Anumba 3-4 1-2 7, Belton 1-3 0-0 2, Falden 1-9 0-0 2, King 4-7 1-2 11, Zunic 5-5 2-2 13, Burns Jr. 9-12 1-2 19, Corbin 5-8 2-2 16, Hunter 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 51-90 12-20 127.
Halftime — Winthrop 59-44. 3-Point Goals—Pfeiffer 13-38 (Avington 0-3, David 3-8, Miller 0-1, Sabb 1-2, Savoy 1-2, Bradsher 0-1, Simmons 0-2, Bailey 0-1, Welch 0-1, Rowe 5-7, Dudley 1-5, Larson 2-2, Blanton 0-3), Winthrop 13-39 (Ferguson 1-3, Jones Jr. 2-6, Hale 2-6, Vaudrin 1-1, Anumba 0-1, Belton 0-2, Falden 0-7, King 2-5, Zunic 1-1, Corbin 4-7). Fouled Out — Scott (PC). Rebounds — Winthrop 61 (Vaudrin/Burns 8), Pfeiffer 38 (David 9). Assists —Winthrop 31 (Vaudrin 8), Pfeiffer 13 (Bradsher 5). Total Fouls — Winthrop 22, Pfeiffer 16. Technical — NA. A —1144.