HAMPTON, VA— Turnovers proved costly as Winthrop dropped its third straight game in a 101-95 double-overtime hard fought loss at Hampton, Sunday afternoon in non-conference men’s basketball action.
With the loss the Eagles fall to 6-5 on the year and will remain on the road as they will open the New Year with a 2 p.m. battle at Dayton on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Hampton improves to 6-7 on the year and 4-1 at home.
The two teams combined for 79 free throws in the game as the Eagles were 34-38 (89.5%) and the Pirates were 30-for-41 (73.2%). The game featured 18 lead changes and 14 ties. Winthrop finished the game shooting 37 percent from the floor and just 23 percent in overtime as Hampton shot 46 percent and 43 percent in overtime.
“I give all praise to Hampton for playing their rear ends off and I give a lot of credit to our kids for fighting their butts off in a really, really hard fought game,” said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey. “There were a couple of crucial stretches when the game was hanging in the balance and we had a couple of crucial turnovers in crucial situations that we had an opportunity to kind of seal the deal, or put the nail in the coffin so to speak.”
Winthrop held an early 89-88 lead in double-overtime after freshman Keon Johnson drained a three before Hampton grabbed the lead back on a Ramon Mercado three-pointer. Winthrop had a couple of chances to tie the game trailing 93-91, but couldn’t get shots to fall and Hampton made just enough plays down the stretch to hold on for the win. Mercado had only played five minutes in regulation and didn’t even attempt a shot, but came through for the Pirates with seven points and two assists in the two overtime periods.
Johnson led all scorers with a career-high 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting and 4-for-6 behind the arc. Keon Moore also had a career-high 22 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Johnson and Moore were two of five Winthrop players in double-figures.
In regulation, Winthrop led 76-72 after James Bourne made two free throws with 37 seconds to play. The Pirates were able to get to the foul line to stop the clock and make it a one possession game after Deron Powers made two free throws with 31 seconds left. Winthrop had a chance to send the game back to a two possession lead but an errant pass by Andre Smith was snatched by Hampton, who went down and tied the game on a lay-up by Powers with 17 seconds left. The Eagles had a chance to win the game at the end, but Joab Jerome drove the lane as the clock ran down and lost the ball out of bounds with two seconds left as the game went to overtime tied at 76-76.
Overtime didn’t start off well for the Eagles as Du’Vaughn Maxwell scored inside and was fouled as he made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Hampton a 79-76 lead. Moore responded with a jumper, but the Pirates came right back as Emmanuel Okoroba made two free throws for another three-point advantage.
The Eagles took their first lead in overtime when Keon Moore made two free throws, but Powers took a pass from Mercado and drained a contested three to push Hampton back into the lead, 84-82 with 1:40 to play. Johnson tied the game with two free throws, but Hampton grabbed the lead again with 19 seconds to play in overtime after Mercado made two free throws. After Winthrop called a timeout, Johnson came through in the clutch with a runner off the glass that tied the game and sent it to double-overtime.
In the second half Winthrop worked its way to a 48-47 lead behind an 11-2 run capped off by a Larry Brown layup with 13:15 to play. Joab Jerome made it a one-point game after he scored on an easy basket after a long pass from Brandon Vega to beat the Pirates down court.
From that point the two teams went back-and-forth until the end of regulation.
Winthrop fell behind by 12 points in the first half after the Pirates started a 17-0 run midway through for a 28-16 lead with 6:24 to play. Brian Darden connected on four of his five first half triples during the run that came to an end after Christian Farmer knocked down a short jumper. Johnson followed with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to seven points, but back-to-back possessions with turnovers allowed Hampton to push the lead back to double-figures at 32-21.
Over the final four minutes of the first half, Winthrop battled its way back to a 37-32 deficit at the break. Moore made 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 10-point Hampton lead before Smith hit a three with 2:46 on the clock to cut the lead to seven points. Three more free throws for Hampton made it a 10-point advantage with less than two minutes to play before Johnson hit another three as Hampton led 35-28. Winthrop made four free throws over the final minute and 13 seconds while Hampton was 2-for-2, which made it a five-point game at the half.
Winthrop shot just 31 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, but matched Hampton behind the arc with six threes made and also finished the first half 8-for-10 at the foul line. Both teams combined for 20 first half turnovers with Hampton scoring nine points on nine Winthrop turnovers and the Eagles getting just six on 11 for the Pirates.
“I was proud of our kids’ efforts,” added Kelsey. “They fought and were worthy of wearing that Winthrop jersey today.”
Smith finished the game with 15 points as he came off the bench to play 30 minutes as he also had two assists. Bourne finished with 11 points as he was 10-for-12 from the foul line and had 10 rebounds to record first career double-double. Farmer added 11 points as he made his first start as an Eagle and also added two rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes.
Maxwell led Hampton with 20 points and 10 rebounds as well as five blocks as he was one of five Hampton players in double-figures. Darden finished with 19 points while Dwight Meikle added 16.
The Eagles finished the game 11-for-29 behind the arc as the 11 triples are the most under a Kelsey led team in two seasons and the fifth time the team has hit 10 or more in a game. Winthrop’s 95 points were the most by a Winthrop team on the road since Jan. 31, 2007 in Lexington, VA with a 109-96 win at VMI.