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Winthrop Eagles roll to big win at Radford

The win was nice. The way this season has gone, Winthrop will take them however they come.

But the best news from Thursday's 77-63 victory over Radford in a sparsely attended Dedmon Center was how full of names the box score was.

The Eagles finally held onto a late lead and were able to clear the decks in the second half - with all 13 scholarship players appearing - to enjoy a relatively comfortable win in a season marked by self-inflicted drama.

"That was good," senior center George Valentine said of getting to watch a lot of reserves finish the game. "I mean, everybody loves to play, we'd play 40 minutes if we could.

"But seeing guys come off the bench and do good things out there, and to get some rest is good for a lot of people."

For much of the final 10 minutes of the blowout, senior guards Andre Jones (35.1 minutes per game) and Reggie Middleton (32.1) sat and watched, giving them the kind of rest they needed.

They had done enough to earn the break, after rarely catching a breath over the past month.

That's going to become more important in games bigger than Thursday's, as the Eagles were looking dead-legged and ragged in recent outings (such as allowing High Point to close with a 13-0 run in the final three minutes to lose at home on Saturday).

Winthrop coach Randy Peele focused on the halftime stats to illustrate the points he wanted to make.

He loved the plus-14 rebound advantage (25-11), the improved shooting, and the fact they held the Highlanders under 30 percent from the floor.

He admitted it was rough late, but was happy to take the progress.

"I think they believe," Peele said. "My whole thing is February, and which team is going to improve the most over the next four weeks.

"I want that to be us, and I think you saw some of that tonight."

Peele made a conscious effort to spread the minutes, starting four minutes into the game when it was still vaguely close.

The Eagles (10-14, 7-6 Big South) didn't win because they subbed more liberally, though - they won because the Highlanders (4-25, 1-12) aren't particularly good at playing basketball.

Radford hit none of its 11 3-point attempts in the first half, and just 8-of-27 from the floor, as Winthrop surged to a 38-17 lead at the break.

But Peele's mixing it up didn't hurt either, as his squad looked fresher than in weeks, which could help Saturday at VMI when it's going to have to run to win.

The Eagles did it differently Thursday, spreading the burden more evenly among the entire roster. Nine players scored in the first half alone, after Peele only used eight players last time out.

Freshman guards Andre Smith and Derrick Henry hadn't played at all the past two games, and the Eagles were left with no points off the bench and a gassed set of starters in the home loss to High Point on Saturday.

But this time, Peele sent the freshmen in en masse at the first media timeout, going with a shock-troops lineup of Smith and Henry, along with fellow freshmen James Bourne and Larry Brown, with junior Gideon Gamble to watch over them.

As if by script, the Eagles went on an 8-0 run with that group on the floor, setting the tone for the rest of the night with the guards breaking out of long slumps.

Smith had hit just one of his previous eight 3-pointers, but promptly buried one. Henry, who had made just two of his previous 20 shots, then answered with a jumper of his own.

Smith finished with those three and a pair of assists and scored eight, but more importantly, they got to give their wire-to-wire starters a break.

Jones, who had only played fewer than 30 minutes twice this year and was averaging 35.1 minutes per game, played just 28. Maybe it helped, as he led the Eagles with 17 points, making all seven of his free throws.

WINTHROP 77, RADFORD 63

WINTHROP

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Jerome

23

1-2

3-4

0-1

2

0

5

Valentine

32

5-6

1-2

1-10

0

3

11

Morgan

22

5-10

2-2

4-5

0

3

13

Middleton

26

3-8

0-0

1-1

7

1

9

Jones

28

5-12

7-7

0-3

1

2

17

Henry

12

3-5

2-3

1-1

0

1

8

Gamble

17

2-3

2-2

1-1

0

1

7

Smith

12

1-2

0-0

0-1

2

1

3

King

2

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Bourne

10

0-1

0-1

1-2

0

3

0

Diop

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

L Brown

14

2-3

0-0

2-4

0

2

4

Scott

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

200

27-52

17-21

13-34

12

17

77

Percentages: FG .519, FT .810. 3-Point Goals: 6-11, .545 (Middleton 3-6, Gamble 1-1, Morgan 1-1, Smith 1-2, Henry 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 7 (Jerome 2, Valentine 2, L. Brown, Gamble, Middleton). Turnovers: 18 (Jones 5, L. Brown 2, Middleton 2, Valentine 2, Morgan 2, Smith, Bourne, Jerome, Gamble, King). Steals: 10 (Valentine 3, Jerome 2, L. Brown 2, Smith, Middleton, Jones). Technical Fouls: None.

RADFORD

Min

FG-A

FT-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Green

28

8-14

2-5

6-9

1

4

18

Edwards

17

2-4

2-4

0-0

0

3

6

J Smith

21

0-6

1-2

0-0

1

4

1

Price

35

5-16

2-2

1-2

5

3

14

Noreen

22

2-4

0-0

1-2

0

1

6

Mitchell

17

0-3

2-2

0-2

0

0

2

C Smith

26

4-6

0-0

2-3

1

2

10

B Smith

17

1-3

0-0

0-3

2

0

2

Carethers

17

2-3

0-0

0-0

0

2

4

Totals

200

24-59

9-15

15-29

10

19

63

Percentages: FG .407, FT .600. 3-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (Noreen 2-3, C. Smith 2-4, Price 2-7, Green 0-1, Mitchell 0-2, J. Smith 0-3). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots: 4 (Carethers 3, Green). Turnovers: 17 (Price 4, Green 4, J. Smith 3, C. Smith 2, Carethers, Noreen, B. Smith, Edwards). Steals: 10 (B. Smith 4, Green 2, Price 2, Mitchell, J. Smith). Technical Fouls: None.

Winthrop

38

39

-

77

Radford

17

46

-

63

Att.-793. Officials-Tony Chiazza, Tim Kelly, Chris King.

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