ROCK HILL, S.C. — This is a highly unusual season, so why not present an unusual recap of Day 2(ish) of the Big South Conference Championships? Instead of writing a game story and compiling quotes for each game as we would ordinarily do with the tournament in one location, we’ll dive into the numbers on the game I covered (#8 High Point at #1 Winthrop) and tell you a little about what happened in the other three quarterfinal contests.
Follow along, followers-along!
#1 Winthrop 83, #8 High Point 54
Winthrop clobbered High Point in a game it never trailed en route to a berth in Thursday’s semifinal round. Here’s my recap, as it appeared in The Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald. Once you give that a read, dive with me Inside the Numbers of the Eagles’ convincing decision.
- A pair of tens: Lost in Chandler Vaudrin’s big night for Winthrop — we’ll talk about that in more detail in a second — was the distinction pulled off by Winthrop’s point guards. Karl Lyles asked me on Twitter — and Big South sports information director/legend Mark Simpson confirmed minutes later — that Vaudrin and fellow Winthrop point guard Russell Jones became the first duo of teammates to each dish 10 helpers in a conference tournament contest. The pair accounted for 20 of Winthrop’s 24 assists on 28 made buckets.
“I can’t imagine it’s happened many times. I’m not surprised it’s never happened in a conference tournament game. I’d be hard-pressed to think it’s happened very many times in regular conference play. It’s just such a luxury to have two really, really good point guards.”Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey
Kelsey also had a number of complimentary words for Jones and what his play has meant to this year’s Eagle club.
Messed around — again — and got a triple-double: Vaudrin booked yet another triple-double (10 pts, 12 boards, 10 dimes), which was the third of this season and seventh of the Ohio native’s career. The senior exited the game at the 6:22 mark, then returned two minutes later and found Adonis Arms on the back-cut with which the Eagles sliced and diced the Panthers much of the night. I asked Vaudrin if he was put back into the game with the intent to get the triple-double, and he — well, kind of — answered.
“We’re just trying to win. It was a good game, and they felt like they needed me to come back in for another possession, so I did. Luckily, Adonis made a lay-up, which is cool.”Winthrop guard Chandler Vaudrin
- The Not-Wright Stuff: Kelsey talked about his team’s plan to limit first-team All-Big South performer John-Michael Wright by forcing him to work for whatever he accumulated (he spoke of making him “labor to score”), and to say that his team did that is an understatement. JMW connected on just 6-of-17 shots (1-of-7 from three) in 34 minutes of play. The remaining Panthers knocked down just 11-of-39 tries from the field, missing all six triples they tried. Perhaps even more terrifying is that the Panthers went 19-for-33 (58%) from the line.
- A Call to Arms: Arms poured in an incredibly efficient 15 points in 21 minutes of action off the pine Monday, including catching and converting Vaudrin’s triple-double-clinching dime. Arms was one of 10 Eagles who saw backup duty, including walk-ons Keyshawn Hunter (who nailed a three) and Nate Buss.
- Make some noise: An announced crowd of 525 — though, admittedly, it seemed like more — responsibly distanced themselves and were a factor throughout the game. Kelsey, Vaudrin, and DJ Burns all noted the energy brought by the spirited group, and how impactful it was to play in front of such a vocal assortment of supporters. No word yet on whether the Eagles will allow more fans for the semifinals and finals, but those who showed up Monday definitely made a difference — especially considering local high schools Clover, Rock Hill, and South Pointe all had boys or girls hoops teams in the state semifinals on the same night.
And finally, the Hustle Stats:
- Points in the paint: High Point 24, Winthrop 24
- Points off turnovers: Winthrop 14, High Point 13
- Second-chance points: Winthrop 15, High Point 13
- Fast-break points: Winthrop 19, High Point 12
WINTHROP 83, HIGH POINT 54
HIGH POINT (9-15): Wright 6-17 4-7 17, Flowers 2-6 2-6 6, Holt 0-2 2-4 2, Randleman 0-4 0-0 0, Elmore 2-4 2-3 6, Slay 4-11 1-2 9, Izunabor 1-3 4-4 6, Childress 0-0 0-0 0, House 2-6 3-5 7, Ayers 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 0-3 1-2 1, Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 19-33 54.
WINTHROP (21-1): Anumba 1-5 0-1 3, Falden 4-7 0-0 10, Zunic 3-5 0-0 9, Burns 3-6 6-6 12, Vaudrin 3-6 3-4 10, Jones 0-8 0-0 0, Lane 0-1 0-0 0, Pupavac 0-0 0-0 0, Talford 3-3 2-2 8, Buss 0-0 0-1 0, King 1-1 1-2 4, Arms 5-13 3-5 15, Corbin 2-8 0-0 5, Claxton 2-2 0-3 4, Hunter 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 28-66 15-24 83.
Halftime — Winthrop 42-26. 3-Point Goals—Winthrop 12-30 (Anumba 1-4, Falden 2-4, Zunic 3-5, Vaudrin 1-1, Jones 0-2, King 1-1, Arms 2-6, Corbin 1-6, Hunter 1-1), High Point 1-13 (Wright 1-7, Slay 0-2, House 0-3, Peterson 0-1). Fouled Out — Elmore (HPU), King (WU). Rebounds — Winthrop 53 (Vaudrin 12), High Point 39 (TEAM 10). Assists —Winthrop 24 (Vaudrin/Jones 10), High Point 6 (Wright 2). Total Fouls — High Point 24, Winthrop 24. Technical — NA. A —525.
Around the tournament:
#2 Radford 67, #7 Hampton 52: Radford forward Shaq Jules notched a 15-point, 10-board double-double in just 20 minutes off the bench, helping guide the second-seeded Highlanders to a 15-point decision over the seventh-seeded Pirates. Mike Jones’s side led by as many as 21 in the contest, as Radford claimed its first win over a Division 1 foe since a 102-66 result over USC Upstate on February 5. Lewis Djonkam added 12 and Dravon Mangum 11 for Radford.
First-team All-Big South performer Davion Warren led all scorers with 22 for the Pirates, with honorable mention all-leaguer Deuce Dean adding 14.
Hampton turned in the lowest three-point percentage the Highlanders have surrendered all season, connecting on just 16.7% (3-for-18) of its tries from the perimeter.
#3 Campbell 63, #6 Gardner-Webb 57: The Runnin’ Bulldogs quest to take the floor for the Big South in back-to-back NCAA tournaments came to an end Monday in Gore Arena in Buies Creek, North Carolina, as the Camels broke open a see-saw affair by draining six free throws in a row inside the final minute to fend off visiting Gardner-Webb. Guard Jordan Whitfield paced the Camels with 18 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. Forward Joshua Lusane added 11 points and nine caroms for the home side.
Gardner-Webb freshmen Jordan Sears and D’Maurian Williams formed a tandem that afforded the Runnin’ Bulldogs 33 of their 57 points. Sears scored 14 of his 20 in the first stanza, finishing the night 7-for-9 from the deck (2-for-4 from distance). Williams added 13 on 5-for-15 shooting.
#5 Longwood 77, #4 UNC Asheville 61
Longwood took down its ninth decision in the last 11 games, turning away an Asheville club that had not played in a month due to a program pause around COVID-19. The Lancers took advantage of the absence of powerful Asheville post Evan Clayborne, tallying a dizzying 54 points in the paint in the victory. Four Longwood scorers hit the books in double digits, paced by Leslie Nkereuwem’s 18. Guard DeShaun Wade contributed 17, with Jesper Granlund and Juan Munoz chipping in 10 apiece. Griff Aldrich’s club poured in shots at a 60-percent clip in the closing period, enabling the Lancers to answer every Bulldog charge.
Four Bulldogs also aided their side with double-figure totals. Taijon Jones led his club with 14, though he was limited to just nine attempts from the field. Jamon Battle added 13, while Coty Jude scored 12 and DeVon Baker 11. Asheville was held to just 4-for-21 (19 percent) from beyond the arc, despite finishing the night at 51 percent (26-for-51) from the floor. The home club pulled in just 22 rebounds (seven offensive), allowing for a 20-8 second-chance points advantage for the visitors.
Big South Semifinals
(all times Eastern)
#3 Campbell (16-9) at #2 Radford (15-11), Thursday, 6:00pm, ESPN+
#5 Longwood (12-15) at #1 Winthrop (21-1), Thursday, 7:30pm, ESPN+