ROCK HILL, SC— Keon Johnson scored a game-high 31 points and Winthrop connected on 14 threes as the top-seeded Eagles advanced to Friday’s semifinals with a 92-78 over 8th-seeded Charleston Southern, Thursday evening in the 2017 Big South Championship.
The win is the sixth in a row for the Eagles as they improve to 24-6 on the year while Charleston Southern falls to 12-19. Winthrop will take on the winner between #4 Gardner-Webb and #5 High Point Friday evening at 8 p.m.
Winthrop finished the game 14-for-30 behind the arc as it set a new single-game record in conference tournament action. The previous record of 12 was held by the 2006-07 team that knocked down 12 in the championship game against VMI on Mar. 3, 2007.
The win is the 100th of head coach Pat Kelsey‘s career as he becomes the first coach in Big South history to reach 100 wins in their first five seasons.
Johnson finished the game 11-for-22 from the floor and 5-for-9 from floor and dished out five assists. With 5:43 in the game, Johnson knocked down two free throws to become just the 10th player in Big South history with 2,000 career points. Xavier Cooks posted a double-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Anders Broman chipped in with 15 points off the bench while Roderick Perkins added 12.
After leading by as much as 14 points early on in the second half, Charleston Southern cut the deficit to 55-51 with 11:35 to play in the game. Over the next three minutes the Eagles pushed the lead back to double-figures at 67-57 after a Prescott flush on a nice feed from Cooks. The closest Charleston Southern got was eight points and the Eagles locked down a double-figure lead for the remaining after Johnson’s two free throws that gave him 2,000 points.
The Bucs were led by Armel Potter’s 21 points while Cortez Mitchell added 19 points. Christian Keeling recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four steals.
Winthrop led 10-7 in the early going, but Xavier Cooks started an 11-0 run with a three as the Eagles capped off the run with two three from Johnson. Winthrop held a double-figure lead over the next 13 minutes until a basket inside by Potter brought the deficit to single-digits at 36-27. The Winthrop lead was down to eight with 2:10 left but the Eagles ended the half on a 5-0 run to lead 44-31 at the break.
The Eagles will be making their fourth straight appearance in the semifinals of the conference tournament, having won the last three.
-This was the seventh straight season the Eagles opened the Big South Tournament with a win
-Winthrop never trailed in the game and has now gone five straight games without trailing
-The Eagles have now defeated Charleston Southern in 16 straight games in the Winthrop Coliseum
-The win is the 12th home win of the season as the Eagles are now 41-6 in the last 47 home games
-The 92 points were the third most by an Eagle team in the Big South Tournament
-Johnson’s 31 points tied for the third most points scored by a Winthrop player in the conference tournament