FARMVILLE, VA— Winthrop jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and never let off the gas as it cruised to a 76-59 victory over Longwood, Wednesday afternoon at Willett Hall.
The win was the fourth straight for the Eagles, who improve to 14-10 overall and 7-4 in the Big South. It also keeps the Eagles just one game out of first in the South Division. Longwood falls to 7-19 overall and 2-9 in the league. Winthrop will look for five straight wins as it heads to North Charleston, SC on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. matchup with Charleston Southern.
“It’s each practice, it’s each game, it’s focusing on a four-minute war, it’s not getting too far ahead of yourself and not looking too far behind,” said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey, referring to his team’s four-game winning streak. “That’s the key. It’s not easy because human nature says you know, when you’re rolling a little bit you can rest on your laurels but we can’t allow our guys to do that because we’re trying to compete for a league championship. You know in this league anybody can beat you on any given night.”
Senior Joab Jerome led all scorers with 18 points as he was 5-for-7 from the floor, 4-for-4 from three and 4-for-6 at the foul line. Jerome was joined in double-figures by Keon Moore with 14 while Keon Johnson, Larry Brown and James Bourne each chipped in with nine points. Brandon Vega scored all eight of his points in the first half as he helped the team push its lead to double-figures. The Eagles shot 48 percent from the field in the game and were an impressive 23-for-27 from the foul line (85 percent).
Four different players scored during the Winthrop 9-0 spurt to start the game as the Eagles forced four turnovers during the run. Winthrop led by 18 points at the half and never let Longwood back in the game over the final 20 minutes.
“We’re a deep team, but it makes us more dangerous because you keep guys fresh, some guys don’t have to play extended minutes or longer minutes than you want them to,” added Kelsey.
Winthrop’s offense remained steady throughout the game as it never let Longwood get any closer than 16 points in the final 20 minutes. A Lucas Woodhouse three from the wing with 10:39 to play in the game cut the Winthrop lead to 16 but Winthrop responded with six straight points for a 63-41 lead as Bourne scored all six at the foul line. Bourne scored on a drive to the basket with 6:39 to play, giving Winthrop its largest lead at 25 points, 70-45.
After falling behind 9-0, Longwood’s Tristen Carey ended the drought to start the game for the Lancers as he followed his own miss. Leading 11-5, Winthrop reeled off seven straight points to push its lead to 18-5 with 11:43 to play in the first half. Winthrop pushed its lead to 20-7 before Woodhouse dropped in a three to cut the Eagles lead back to 10. However, Winthrop pushed the lead to 18 points at 30-12 after a Moore three in the corner. The Eagles pushed their lead to 20-points briefly after Moore made two free throws with 1:36 to play in the half but Leron Fisher scored on back-to-back possessions for the Lancers. It looked as if Winthrop would lead by 16 heading into the break but Moore was fouled off an inbound play with a second left and made both free throws for a 43-25 lead.
Winthrop shot 57 percent from the floor and forced 10 turnovers as it converted them for 13 points. Longwood shot 44 percent from the floor and outscored the Eagles 16-14 in the paint in the first 20 minutes.
The four-game winning streak is the longest since the 2009-10 season and the Eagles now have the most road wins (5) since that same season.
Longwood was led by Jeylani Dublin’s 15 points off the bench while Carey added 11 on 5-for-14 shooting and Woodhouse had 10.
In addition to their scoring, Brown and Bourne hit the boards as Brown finished with 10 and Bourne had five. Winthrop won the rebounding battle 33-27 and second chance points 14-13.