ROCK HILL, SC— Keon Moore scored 22 points, including a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining to force overtime, as Winthrop rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to defeat UNC Asheville 107-100 in overtime, Wednesday evening at the Winthrop Coliseum.
The Eagles (16-12, 9-6 Big South) trailed by nine points with 1:07 to play in the game as the Eagles scored on three straight possessions behind the arc to tie the game at 94-94. The first three came from Joab Jerome as the Eagles then forced a turnover on the Bulldogs next possession. Keon Johnson dribbled off a screen by Josh Davenport and pulled up behind the arc to hit a straight away three with 40.8 seconds to play.
Winthrop tried to come up with a steal as Asheville (15-14, 9-6 Big South) inbounded the ball at the baseline and then when it couldn’t force the turnover head coach Pat Kelsey decided not to foul and defend with about a 5-6 second separation from shot clock to game clock. Andre Rowsey, who finished with a game-high 37 points, pulled up from three as the shot clock was winding down the missed off right as the ball shot off the rim right into the hands of Johnson. The freshman guard pushed the ball up the court quickly and launched a pass down court to the far right corner where Moore was standing and he caught the pass, pulled up and swished the shot.
Winthrop outscored the Bulldogs 13-6 in overtime to pull off the win as Jerome scored five and Johnson added four in the extra period.
Johnson finished the game with a career-high 27 points as he also set the school record for points by a freshman in a single-season, passing Tyson Waterman’s mark of 324 set in 1995-96. Jerome and Smith had 17 points and Davenport came off the bench for 12.
“It’s one of those games where it’s a shame where somebody has to lose because I thought Asheville was valiant in their effort tonight and Rowsey was a video game,” said Kelsey. “I was surprised to he only had 25 at half, I thought he had 720. He was unbelievable. I credit our kids for staying resilient and having resolve when it looked like the chips were down and the game was over.”
With the game tied at 67-67 with 13:17 to play in the game, Asheville went on a quick 7-0 run and then outscored the Eagles 17-6 over a four minute span that ended with a four-point play from Rowsey for an 84-73 lead with 8:22 left. Prior to Rowsey’s four-point play, Sam Hughes was fouled shooting a three and made all three of his free throws as Asheville scored seven points in 35 seconds.
Asheville was able to hold the lead between nine and 11 points over the next five minutes until 56 seconds left when Jerome hit the first of three straight triples to tie the game.
It was a high scoring game but defensively the Eagles forced 21 turnovers in the game and converted them into 38 points. Asheville finished the game shooting 60 percent from the floor and 54 percent from three as it was 13-for-24 behind the arc. Winthrop shot 50 percent in the game and 56 percent behind the arc as it was 15-for-27 from three. It was the second time this season and second time in league play that Winthrop connected on 15 threes.
In addition to Rowsey’s 37 points, Jaron Lane added 22 while D.J. Cunningham and Corey Littlejohn added 11 points each. Cunningham also had eight rebounds and two blocks.
Both teams were scorching the net in the first half as the Eagles shot 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from three (8-for-16) but were outdone by Asheville’s 67 percent from the field and 54 percent behind the arc.
Winthrop took full advantage of its forced turnovers as it converted 10 Bulldog miscues into 21 points and led 53-47 at the break.
Asheville led 12-4 early as Rowsey hit a couple of early threes and scored eight of the team’s first 12 points. Winthrop fell behind by as much as 19-8 but the Eagles responded with a 13-2 run to tie the game at 21-21. Winthrop then took a 24-23 lead on an Smith three from the corner. The game was then tied at 28-28 when a steal and lay-up on the other end by Josh Davenport sparked a 15-3 run that pushed the Eagles ahead by double-figures at 43-31 with 5:11 to play in the half.
Winthrop led by 10 points with 43 seconds left in the half but Rowsey scored four straight points on free throws to cut the deficit to six at the break.
The regular season will come to an end on Saturday as the Eagles host Presbyterian College at 4 p.m. on “Senior Day.” Asheville will also finish the regular season at home on Saturday as it hosts Gardner-Webb at 4:30 p.m.
Below is the audio of the final play in regulation from WRHI’s Chris Miller