NORTH CHARLESTON, SC— Winthrop men’s basketball’s winning streak came to an end as it ran into a hot shooting Charleston Southern team, falling 84-64 at the Buc Dome, Saturday evening in Big South Conference action.
The Eagles fall to 14-11 overall and 7-5 in the Big South as their winning streak was halted at four games as they will look to bounce back on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at home when they take Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m. The victory improves Charleston Southern to 11-13 overall and 5-6 in the league.
Winthrop was outscored 9-2 over the final four minutes of the first half, trailing by 12 points at the break and never recovered as it couldn’t seem to cut into the deficit over the final 20 minutes. It was the fifth straight loss at the Buc Dome by the Eagles, who won the first meeting 85-68 on Jan. 11.
There was a moment in the second half where it looked like Winthrop had a chance to cut the lead to single-digits and make a run as Andre Smith drove the lane and scored to make it 62-50 with 8:14 to play. After a miss on the other end by the Bucs, Winthrop came down in transition with numbers and the ball found its way to a wide open Keon Moore in the corner. Instead of putting up the shot, Moore drove baseline and tried to pass the ball back out to a teammate at the three-point line but it was picked off by the Bucs.
From that point, Charleston Southern outscored the Eagles 22-14 over the final eight minutes of the game. The Bucs finished the game shooting 57 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three and were 21-for-28 at the foul line. Winthrop finished the game shooting 37 percent from the field, 44 percent from three and 80 percent from the foul line (16-for-20). The Eagles hit 10 threes in the game and it was the ninth time Winthrop has hit 10 or more in a game.
“They shot 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from three,” said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey. “Credit them for making plays and executing their offense. I give them credit, tip my cap to them making a lot of shots and being very efficient on the offensive end. You can’t expect to come into an environment like this against a good team and allow them to shoot 57/50 from the floor and from three and expect to a highly contested conference game when contending for a conference championship. I think it all starts there, I think it starts with us on the defensive end.”
There were five Charleston Southern players in double-figures led by Arlon Harper’s 17 as Sheldon Strickland and Matt Kennedy each added 14.
Smith and Jerome led the Eagles with 12 points each while Moore finished with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Jerome passed the 800-point and 400-rebound plateau in the game.
Winthrop came out of the locker room with five quick points to cut into the deficit as Moore scored on a lay-up and then Joab Jerome pulled up in front of the Eagle bench in the corner for his second three of the game and trailed by seven. It didn’t last long as the Bucs countered with eight straight points for their largest lead of the game to that point at 51-36 with 17:40 to play.
Winthrop trailed by 12 points at the break as Charleston Southern shot 58 percent over the first 20 minutes while the Eagles struggled from the field at 33 percent.
The game started in favor of the Eagles as they led 6-2 early behind three-pointers from Jerome and Smith. Winthrop led 8-4 after a Smith jumper, but the Bucs went on a 10-0 run to lead 14-8 with 15:33 left in the half. That run was highlighted by two three-pointers from Paul Gombwer. Winthrop’s Brandon Vega knocked down two free throws to pull within three, but an 8-2 run over the next two and a half minutes pushed Charleston Southern head by nine points with 11:51 left.
The Eagles responded quickly with eight straight points in less than two minutes as Christian Farmer and Keon Johnson hit back-to-back threes to spark the spurt. Johnson’s three made it a one-point game at 24-23 but Cedrick Bowen came right back for the Bucs with a jumper and two free throws from Saah Nimley pushed the lead back to five.
It looked like Charleston Southern was going to pull away some toward the final four minutes of the half as it led by eight until a Jarad Scott three with 3:55 left cut the deficit back to five. However, the Bucs answered quickly with a Kennedy three and outscored the Eagles 9-2 the rest of the half for a double-figure lead. Winthrop had not trailed at the half in the previous five games as the Eagles faced their largest deficit at the half since it trailed Virginia Military Institute by 13 at home on Jan. 25.