Next man up.
Winthrop mens basketball has espoused that assembly line mentality all season, crucial in a year where the Eagles have lost three players to season-ending injuries. With leading scorer Derrick Henry and leading rebounder and post presence Larry Brown going down in the past two weeks, Pat Kelseys team needed some new faces to emerge. Saturday evening in Winthrops 66-52 win over Southeastern Louisiana in the Ramada Worldwide Bracketbusters game, Christian Farmer and Steve Johnson took their turn stepping up.
Johnson scored 12 points and snared 7 rebounds, while Farmer added 12 points on 3 of 3 shooting from beyond the arc. The junior college transfers averaged about 13 minutes of action per game coming in, but both contributed in a combined 45 minutes of play Saturday.
Every single game you have to be ready to play, whether we have 13 healthy guys, or whether we have seven, said Farmer, a streaky, left-handed shooter. He added, I feel like me and Steve can contribute to the team a whole lot. I think were starting to take on more serious roles.
Six Eagles scored, with five of those in double figures. Gideon Gamble had 13, while Joab Jerome led Winthrop (12-15) in scoring for the third straight outing, finishing with 14 points. The Eagles took a season-high 33 foul shots, making 23, while Southeastern Louisiana (10-15) battled foul trouble, especially amongst its interior players.
We havent been the most effective post scoring team this year, said Kelsey. We want to get the ball there on drives, not just settle for jump shots. The games where were just shooting the first open look consistently isnt good for us.
With two of the teams best defenders sidelined, the Eagles seemed intent on ratcheting up their defensive focus. They limited SLUs leading scorers, Brandon Fortenberry and Roosevelt Johnson, to a combined 10 points, forced 17 turnovers to just four assists, and held Jim Yarbroughs team to 36 percent shooting from the floor.
Their big bodies bothered Roosevelt Johnson, said Yarbrough, and I thought they did a real good job of making the court small for Brandon Fortenberry. Neither of those guys was able to respond and give us much scoring.
We talk about protecting that box, said Kelsey, that 12-by-12 area around the rim, and we knew if they consistently got to that box then that was bad for us. Theyre so strong and physical that we wanted to crowd the floor and make it sticky.
Winthrop blew open a one-point halftime lead with a muscle car surge in the second half. The Eagles outscored the Lions 18-5 during an 8-minute second half stretch to build a 56-42 lead with about 7 minutes to go. Andre Smith, who finished with 12 points for the Eagles, knocked in a , and Farmer buried a pair of 3s off screens that padded the lead.
On the defensive end, Winthrop stifled the Lions in the second 20 minutes, holding them to 6 of 21 shooting, including just 1 of 8 from 3-point territory.
I was real fearful they were going to make the run, because they had a little momentum going into halftime, Yarbrough said. And we just stopped scoring.
The Lions controlled much of the first half before a late Winthrop flurry sent the Eagles into halftime with the lead. A six-minute field goal drought for the hosts allowed SLU to open up an 18-9 advantage. Johnsons old fashioned 3-point play ended the Winthrop funk and in turn spurred an 8-0 run for the Eagles that pulled them to within one at 18-17.
Todd Nelsons 3 and Roger Woods bucket in transition, plus the foul, extended the Lions advantage out to 24-17, but the Eagles closed the gap before the break. Smith drilled a 3 out of a timeout and Johnson converted a drive off an inbounds play to make it 27-24.
Johnson made the highlight play of the first 20 minutes, rejecting an SLU shot in transition, which led to Farmers 3 at the other end and a 33-32 Eagle halftime lead.
It was one of several sparks that Farmer and Johnson gave the Winthrop engine.
They did what theyre supposed to do, said Kelsey, play physical and effective basketball.
Loud crowd : A season-high crowd of 2,400 showed up Saturday, due in part to the Back the Pack promotion involving local elementary schools. The program, organized by Randy and Jennifer Graham, discreetly supplies underprivileged children with non-perishable food to take home on the weekend. A throng of elementary school students and their parents filled the Coliseum as several local schools competed to see which had the most students attend the game.
They gave us an emotional lift today and that was really big, said Kelsey.
|WINTHROP 66, SE LOUISIANA 52|
Percentages: FG .356, FT .778. 3-Point Goals: 6-17, .353 (Evans 2-4, Nelson 2-6, Ricard 1-2, Fortenberry 1-4, Ochie 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 5 (Ochie 3, Fortenberry, Benton). Turnovers: 17 (Woods 4, Johnson 3, Fortenberry 3, Ricard 3, Ochie, Evans, Benton). Steals: 4 (Ochie 2, Evans, Benton). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .419, FT .697. 3-Point Goals: 7-15, .467 (Farmer 3-3, Smith 3-5, Gamble 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Jerome 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Gamble, Johnson, Jerome). Turnovers: 11 (Bourne 4, Gamble 2, Smith 2, Diop, King, Jerome). Steals: 5 (Bourne 2, Smith, Diop, King). Technical Fouls: Johnson.
Att.2,410. OfficialsBuddy Daughdrill, Henry Howard, Rusty Phillips.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T