BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — The Winthrop men’s basketball team dropped its second straight game with a 65-52 loss at Gardner-Webb on Tuesday evening in Big South Conference men’s basketball action.
Winthrop falls to 11-15 overall and 5-9 in the league. Gardner-Webb improves to 17-11 for the season and 9-5 in the Big South as it has won four straight and seven of the past eight.
The Eagles held a 12-point first-half advantage, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs scored the final six points of the first half and then outscored the Eagles 15-9 to open the second half to tie the score at 39 after a Tyler Strange deep 3-pointer. It capped eight straight points by Strange to tie the score for the first time since early in the game when it was 2-2.
Max Landis made one of two free throws for the first Gardner-Webb lead of the game, 40-39. That was part of a 13-2 run that pushed the Runnin’ Bulldogs into a nine-point advantage at 49-40 with 8 minutes, 8 seconds to play after a Kevin Hartley 3-pointer in the corner following an offensive rebound.
Turnovers played a big role in allowing Gardner-Webb to tie the score and eventually take the lead for good as the Eagles committed 10 turnovers during the second half (18 for the game).
Gardner-Webb dominated the game at the free-throw line, going 28-for-35 while the Eagles were 11-for-16. The 35 free throws, 20 of which came during the second-half comeback, were the most against the Eagles on the season and the second time on the road that their opponent attempted at least 30 free throws. The rebounding battle went to the Runnin’ Bulldogs as well with a 37-23 advantage, including 16 offensive boards.
Joab Jerome scored the first seven points for Winthrop to help the team to an early 9-2 lead. Winthrop’s defense was getting the job done and held the Runnin’ Bulldogs to just two points over the first 61/2 minutes and under 10 points until the 7:55 mark of the first half.
Gardner-Webb pulled within a point at 12-11 with 8:41 remaining in the half before the Eagles went on a 13-3 run that was capped off by seven straight points. Christian Farmer ignited the run with a baseline jumper off the dribble and Andre Smith scored seven points including a 3-pointer for a 25-14 lead. After the Runnin’ Bulldogs cut the lead back to single digits, it was Smith again as he pulled up for a quick 3 to give Winthrop a 28-16 lead with 3:27 left.
Reggie King knocked down two free throws for a 30-18 lead with 2:44 to play in the half, but Gardner-Webb scored the next six points to make it 30-24 at the break.
The Eagles shot 48percent from the floor as they scored 30 points in the first half for the first time since doing so against Gardner-Webb at the Winthrop Coliseum on Jan. 23.
With the absence of the team’s leading scorer Derrick Henry (11.4 per game), Jerome led the Eagles with 15 points and Smith finished with 10 points.
Gardner-Webb was led by Jerome Hill’s game-high 18 points as he was 4-for-8 from the field and 10-for-13 at the line. Strange added 14 points and Donta Harper had 12.
Winthrop will step away from conference action as its next contest will be against Southeastern Louisiana in its Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters matchup. Tip-off is set at 4 p.m. Saturday and will be part of a doubleheader with the women’s team, who will face Radford at 1 p.m.