There are no two ways around it; Winthrop got smoked, 88-67, by UNC Asheville at the Coliseum on Thursday night.
The Eagles spent more than an hour Friday afternoon reviewing film from what turned out to be the team's worst home loss in 13 years. Winthrop coach Randy Peele said after Thursday's defeat his team wasn't competitive enough and was "gonna figure it out."
At issue is a string of games featuring inadequate first half play. Winthrop has played poorly before the break in its last four games. Dating back to the Charlotte game on Dec. 7, the Eagles' first 20 minutes have put the team in a hole in five of the last six games.
Here are some 2010-11 numbers to ponder:
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In the first half, opponents have made 60-of-123 shots (49 percent) in the last four games. They've done even better from 3-point range, connecting on 24-of-48 (50 percent).
Winthrop has made 19 fewer field goals (41) over the same span and is shooting at a 33.1 percent rate. The Eagles have made only four treys (4-for-24, 18.2 percent).
In the first half, the Eagles have been outscored by a combined 57 points in the last four outings and have trailed by double-digits in each game.
In the first half of Winthrop's four Big South games the defensive field goal percentage, a stat the team has prided itself on for a decade, has worsened. Starting with VMI (34.4) and Liberty (36.4), conference teams have shot better in each game. Presbyterian shot 41.4 percent and UNC Asheville came out with guns a-blazin' to make 46.4 percent of its shots in the first 20 minutes.
Peele had the team on the floor for about an hour on Friday to prepare for tonight's 7 p.m. home tilt with Gardner-Webb. The Runnin' Bulldogs, under first-year coach Chris Holtmann, haven't won since Dec. 4 when they beat Radford. In all, the team has lost seven straight including a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Presbyterian on Thursday.
Peele isn't taking anything for granted.
Gardner-Webb (6-11, 1-4 Big South) is without its leading scorer, senior Jonathan Moore who might be out until the end of the month due to injury. Point guard Luke Davis might be in the running for conference Freshman of the Year honors. He's averaging eight points and nearly four assists while shooting better than 41 percent from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs are inconsistent right now. They were blown out by VMI, 97-76, and PC, 78-44. Prior to those games they held an 11-point second half lead over Liberty (5-0 Big South) before falling 64-62 in overtime.
"I am most concerned with us and trying to find out where we are as a team," Peele said. Our approach to practice just hasn't been there."
On Friday, the players were attentive for the hour they were on the floor. They were reminded that Gardner-Webb came into the Coliseum two seasons ago and won 64-49.
"They beat our tails," Peele put it.
Peele looked tired after practice, as if he'd been up all night reviewing Thursday's 21-point loss over and over in his head. He said Winthrop missed too many shots early in the game; open jump shots and layups, alike.
Peele said the 95 possessions in the game were too many. He likes that number in the 60 to 70 range.
Summing up his thoughts he said, "When you shoot jump shots and miss, it leads to transition baskets. We got into some foul trouble as a result of there being more possessions."
Tired or not, Peele and the team headed back to the film room to study up on Gardner-Webb in hopes of a more successful first half and a better outcome.