DURHAM, N.C. — The Winthrop men established early on that N.C. Central would have to work for this one.
N.C. Central got it done 72-66 over Winthrop on Wednesday at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium, but the visitors four-guard lineup caused problems. It forced one of Centrals big men to have to match up with a quicker player.
The Eagles from Rock Hill, moved the ball with a swiftness that put the Eagles from Durham, N.C., in an 11-3 hole before a 3-pointer from Centrals Reggie Groves brought the home team within three points of their guests.
Jordan Parks tied the game with a 3-pointer on Centrals next possession.
Groves a redshirt senior in his first season with Central established himself as a long-ball shooter with 10 3-pointers against Barber-Scotia, breaking the schools single-game record of nine threes that Central coach LeVelle Moton set in 1995. When that game was over, Groves had scored 32 points, but Barber-Scotia is nowhere close to being a Division I team like Central.
Groves getting buckets against Winthrop would be a better measure of his ability to bring it.
He brought it, getting another 3-pointer to go in the first half.
Thats what we brought him here for, Moton said. He has to take those shots because hes more than capable of knocking them down, and he hit a huge one over here in the corner that put us up 58-56 that kind of gave us a cushion.
During Centrals Dec. 7 loss at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Groves was passing up open looks. Moton told Groves that playing like that is no good for the team.
Groves, a graduate student, was missing practice time earlier in the season due to his class schedule. He said it kept him from grasping some of the plays, but now hes on the other side of that learning curve.
Its all about confidence, said Groves (12 points).
Parks finished the half with 13 points, and Ingram, Centrals leading scorer, was beginning to get warm. His 12 points helped his team to a 39-32 halftime lead.
Ingram finished with a game-high 24 points, and Central point guard Emanuel Poobie Chapman led all with nine assists.
Ingram can really, really score, Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said. Poobies got eyes in the back of his head. He can see the game, like, two seconds in advance. Thats an innate, special skill. I love watching that kid on tape because you love watching point guards with great court sense, and he really has that.
Winthrop point guard Keon Johnson (12 points) got off to a fast start before cooling off, finishing the half with seven points.
In the second half, a Josh Davenport 3-pointer brought Winthrop within two points of Central, 51-48 with 12:55 left in the game. His hoop off a little dribble drive got Winthrop a couple of points closer, and then Andre Smiths 3-pointer gave the school its first lead of the second half with 10:51 to go.
Lots of 3-pointers in this game, and Johnsons deep ball got Winthrop within two with 5:45 to play.
They jumped on us out of the half, Kelsey said. To our kids credit, they responded and took the lead. We had a couple of tough turnovers late that were crucial when it was a two-point game that led to baskets, and I think that was the end of the story.