I was on the ones and twos for the Rock Hill Herald for this game, and you can — and should — read the game story here. Once you do that, let’s go inside the numbers of Winthrop’s late triumph.
- Elon had leads of 10 or greater on three separate occasions. The first one took roughly four minutes to disappear, as an 11-3 Winthrop surge sliced the Elon lead to a bucket before an 8-0 Phoenix burst took it back to 10. That second double-digit lead lasted longer — roughly five minutes — before a 16-7 segment from Winthrop cut the lead to one.
The third was the hardest to swallow. The Phoenix ripped off an 8-0 run to start their second half scoring, putting Elon ahead by 11 with 17:30 remaining. That run vanished in the span of 2:50, with Charles Falden scoring the final nine straight points of an 11-0 Eagle counter to draw the game level at 52. Winthrop’s Hunter Hale knocked down a jumper to level the proceedings at 57, and the Eagles would either lead or be tied the rest of the way.
- The Phoenix attempted 53 shots in the game, with 33 coming from three-point range. Winthrop’s pack-line principles clamped down on Elon’s post pair of Simon Wright and Federico Poser, with the two attempting just two shots. Poser quickly accumulated three fouls — including a flagrant-two — in a physical defensive battle against Winthrop posts D.J. Burns and Josh Ferguson, while Wright tallied four fouls in 22 minutes of game action. Elon was punished in the paint, which we’ll review in a bit.
- Elon was much more adept offensively in the opening 20, as evidenced by both their six-point halftime lead and first-half shooting percentage. The Phoenix connected on 53.8 percent (14-for-26) of their first-half tries, and hit 7-of-9 shots from inside the arc. The visitors hit 10-of-27 in the second half, with just 5-of-11 connecting from inside the arc.
“I thought our defense got a lot better in the second half. (In) the first half, they shot 53 percent from the field. I thought they were really in rhythm, and it was our job to get them out of rhythm by playing with more ferocity on the defensive end. I felt like we did that in the second half … I just felt like we guarded better after that first 20 minutes.
“We had to ruffle their feathers a little bit. We had to get into them, and our activity had to be better. I felt like the flow of their offense was too easy. They were — seven threes at half, I wanna say 80 percent of their shots were threes, they were getting to the free throw line way, way too much. I think we cleaned a lot of that up in the second half.
“I thought (our ability to contest on the catch and close out on threes) was better in the second half. I did. In the first half, we talked about how you have to win closeouts in this game. They really spread you like we spread you. They get threes off their actions and the pick-and-roll. You’ve gotta move on air time and be there on the catch to take away the rhythm of the three-point shooter. As the game went on, I felt like we were better in that regard.” – Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey
- Star grad transfer Marcus Sheffield had another huge game for Elon, but that second-half defensive resurgence Kelsey mentioned helped to limit his output in the closing 20. Freshman forward Chase Claxton turned away a Hunter Woods attempt late in the game, then converted two free throws to complete a four-point swing he helped create. Claxton also helped stem the tide of Sheffield’s scoring.
“He’s (Claxton) one of the best freshman defenders I’ve ever coached. He was one of the guys — there were three or four of them — that guarded the Sheffield kid for the majority of the game. He ended up with 27, but he had 17 at half. He’s good. He’s good. I thought Chase did a pretty good job on him.” – Kelsey
- The flow of the game was significantly impacted by foul calls, particularly in the second half. The teams split 59 fouls, with 32 of them coming in the final stanza. Elon sent Winthrop to the line quite a bit in the closing seconds as it attempted to get back into the game, but there was more for which to account than those seconds. The teams combined to attempt 72 free throws (Winthrop 42, Elon 30), with 41 of them being taken in the second half. Winthrop was a paltry 6-for-15 from the stripe in the first half, then sank 20 tries in the second. Elon also performed much better in the second half, improving its free throw percentage by over 22 percent.
- Two of those fouls came on late three-point attempts by Elon. Woods and Sheffield combined to knock down five of the six free throw attempts. Kelsey was not amused, despite the joke at the beginning.
“We were gonna cancel Christmas break if we fouled one more three-point shooter. That was a little bit frustrating … We’ve gotta clean that up. We might lead the country in three-point shooters.” – Kelsey
- Finally, the Hustle Stats:
- Points in the Paint: Winthrop 26, Elon 16
- Points off Turnovers: Winthrop 17, Elon 15
- Second-Chance Points: Winthrop 7, Elon 3
- Winthrop held Elon to just four offensive rebounds.
- Fast-Break Points: Winthrop 10, Elon 3
- Bench Points: Winthrop 41, Elon 11
- Russell Jones’ career-high 21 (in 16 minutes) and Charles Falden’s 15 helped key this total. The two hit 10-of-17 tries, on top of 9-of-14 free throws.
WINTHROP 85, ELON 80
ELON (4-9): Woods 3-11 3-5 11, Wright 0-2 0-0 0, McIntosh 7-12 3-5 22, Sheffield 8-17 9-12 27, Ervin 3-7 0-0 9, Hannah 3-3 5-7 11, Fuller 0-0 0-0 0, Poser 0-0 0-1 0, Wooten 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-53 20-30 80.
WINTHROP (6-7): Ferguson 3-6 4-4 11, Claxton 2-2 3-3 7, Anumba 2-5 0-1 4, Hale 4-12 6-8 14, Vaudrin 2-8 3-8 8, Jones 5-8 7-12 21, Falden 5-9 2-2 15, King 0-0 0-0 0, Burns 2-7 1-4 5. Totals 25-57 26-42 85.
Halftime — Elon 44-38. 3-Point Goals—Elon 12-33 (Woods 2-7, Wright 0-2, McIntosh 5-9, Sheffield 2-9, Ervin 3-5, Wooten 0-1), Winthrop 9-23 (Ferguson 1-4, Anumba 0-1, Hale 0-6, Vaudrin 1-3, Jones 4-5, Falden 3-4). Fouled Out —McIntosh (EU), Claxton (WU). Rebounds —Winthrop 38 (Ferguson 8), Elon 34 (Woods/Ervin/Hannah 7). Assists —Elon 15 (Wright/Sheffield 3), Winthrop 11 (Vaudrin 5). Total Fouls — Elon 33, Winthrop 26. Technical — NA. A —2139.