ROCK HILL, SC— Winthrop knocked down 15 threes to help pull off an 85-68 victory over Charleston Southern, Saturday afternoon in Big South Conference men’s basketball action at the Winthrop Coliseum.
It was the most threes in a game by the Eagles since they had 15 on Dec. 4, 2006 at 12th-ranked Wisconsin as they start Big South play 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07. Winthrop is now 8-6 on the year while Charleston Southern falls to 7-8 overall and 1-1 in the league.
Winthrop’s three-point barrage came from just three different players as Keon Moore, Andre Smith and Christian Farmer each hit five in the game, which were career-highs for all three players. Moore finished the game 5-for-7 behind the arc, Smith was 5-for-9 and Farmer was 5-for-7.
Moore led all scorers with 23 points and was one of five Eagles in double-figures. The 23 points are a career-high as he was 9-for-14 from the field and also had four rebounds. Smith had 19 points as he was 6-for-12 from the floor and also had five assists while Farmer finished with 15 points.
With 13:35 to play in the game, Winthrop led 54-51 and a Farmer three ignited a run that opened up the game in favor of the Eagles. Winthrop outscored the Bucs 22-8 in nearly an eight minute span that was highlighted by three triples from Farmer. During that stretch the Eagles held to the Bucs to 2-for-9 from the field and they were also just 4-for-8 from the free throw line. However, Winthrop went 9-for-14 from the field during the run. At the end of the run the Eagles led 76-59 with 5:48 to play and eventually extended that lead to 22 points with 3:05 to play.
“Proud of our guys,” said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey. “Everyone knows Joab Jerome didn’t play today after turning his ankle yesterday. I told those guys in the locker room it was going to take a collective effort of everybody maybe coming out of their comfort zone a little bit, changing their roles but before I could even get those sentences out of my mouth those guys started speaking up. Those kids just rallied around him and wanted to win the game for him so that was really, really neat to see. I’m proud of those guys, it was such a team effort and so many guys made contributions. We beat a really good team. They’re as explosive an offensive team as we’ll play all year long. To our kids credit we dug down, defended, made some big shots and rebounded well. It was a good win.”
Jerome, who is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game and second in rebounding at 3.7, missed the game after suffering an injury late Friday afternoon at practice.
Charleston Southern finished the game with nine threes after entering the game ranked first nationally in threes made per game and fourth in scoring at 87.6 points per game. The Bucs finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field and 33 percent behind the arc but Winthrop held them to just 17 percent from three in the second half.
The Eagles finished 15-for-28 behind the arc for 54 percent as they shot 52 percent for the game.
Winthrop ended the first half with a three and more started off the second half with a three to push the lead to seven points out of the gate. That three sparked a 12-2 run that lifted the Eagles to a 54-40 lead with 16:42 remaining. Moore scored eight of the 12 points during the run.
The second half was not different at the beginning than the first half as each team continued to answer a run with one of its own. Charleston Southern scored the next 11 points to pull within three points before the Eagles went on the big run that opened the game. The run started with a three-point play as Matt Kennedy scored inside and knocked down his free throw.
Winthrop fell behind 4-0 early, went on a 17-4 run that ended with 11 straight points for a 17-8 with 13:08 to play in the first. The Eagles got hot from behind the arc to cap off the run with 11 straight points. The 11 straight points started with a Smith knocking down a straight away three and then on the next possession he stepped back further and drained another. The following possession saw Farmer pull up from three on the wing and knock it down which forced a Charleston Southern timeout. Kennedy ended the run with a three from the wing.
Following the Kennedy three the Bucs worked their way back to a two-point deficit with 10:10 left after Arlon Harper drilled a three in the corner. That was answered with a Moore three on the other end to put Winthrop up 22-17. Smith drove and hit a pull-up jumper for a 24-21 lead for the Eagles but the Bucs responded with a 9-0 run and took a 30-24 lead with just over five left in the half.
The Eagles countered with an 8-0 to take the lead again at 32-30 at the 3:07 mark. Smith started the run as he knocked down another three to immediately cut the deficit in half at 30-27. A Tevin Prescott basket inside made it a one-point game and then following a turnover the Eagles took the lead on a three by Moore. The lead didn’t last long as Harper came right back with a three to put Charleston Southern in front 33-32 with 2:54 left. Both teams exchanged the lead a couple more times before Winthrop snagged a one-point lead on a three courtesy of Farmer. After following a forced turnover on the other end as the Bucs were letting the shot clock wind down, Winthrop came back up and Smith connected on his fourth three of the half as time expired for a 42-38 lead.
The last 17 times that Charleston Southern and Winthrop have met, the team leading at the half has gone on to win the game.
Prescott chipped in with a career-best 13 points and six rebounds while Brown had one of the best games of his career with 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Sheldon Strickland led Charleston Southern with 14 points off the bench on 5-for-10 shooting while Saah Nimley had 13 points and Harper finished with 11.