After 12 games, eight decided by eight or fewer points, Winthrop's Eagles were due for an easy one, and they got it Wednesday, coasting past Limestone 78-34.
It was the second-highest point total of the year for the Eagles (8-5) and the fewest points allowed since the Eagles beat Johnson & Wales 130-33 in 1996.
The Eagles made half their 56 shots and had 19 assists on 28 field goals. They pounded the smaller Saints on the boards 50-21 and grabbed 21 offensive rebounds. They forced 19 turnovers.
The best description Winthrop coach Randy Peele could offer was a "business-like" win. And he loved that he got 10 players double-digit minutes.
With it resting between last week's upset of 19th-ranked Miami and Saturday's road trip to Marshall, the best thing Wednesday was the Eagles just got to play.
"It was another chance to play," Peele said.
And it was another opportunity for him to work on his team's mental approach to the game.
"I'm convinced our mental approach in terms of video sessions to practice to scouting reports has got to get better," he said. "We won by 40.
"When we came out I was really concerned about us defensively. I didn't feel we came out with the energy I wanted, but in the end we were able extend to our defense and play a lot of people."
In other words, the Eagles did what they were expected to do.
"The mark of a good team," Peele said, "is if you're supposed to beat a team by 30, you beat them by 30. If you're supposed to beat them by 40, you beat them by 40."
But Peele's concerns were coming true early on. It took about eight minutes for the Eagles to wake up, and it may have been a 3-pointer from Limestone's Marques Williams to cut an early Winthrop lead to 19-16 that sounded the alarm.
The Eagles outscored the Saints 35-4 over the final 11 minutes of the half, including a 20-0 run after Williams' basket, to break it open. During the 20-0 spurt, the Saints missed nine shots and turned the ball over eight times.
The Eagles fed off the defense and got four baskets in transition. The Eagles led 44-20 at the break, forcing Peele to make a halftime adjustment.
"Our goals going into the game were to hold them to 50 points, 36 percent shooting and 25 percent on threes," Peele said. In an effort to apply a little more pressure to his team he "adjusted that to 40 points."
In the second half, the Saints mustered just 14 points, shooting 26 percent, and the Eagles were able to play a lot of bodies and pad some stats.
Junior college transfer Andy Buechert (10) and freshman George Valentine (10) had career-highs in rebounds and redshirt freshman Byron Faison (13) hit his career-high in points.
Faison also played a career-high 22 minutes, hitting 5-of-9 shots, adding five rebounds and two assists. After shooting a couple of airballs early, he settled down and did some damage on the offensive end.
"It feels really, really good," said Faison, who came out of Crestwood High School with some gaudy scoring numbers. "It's hard to get minutes playing behind Mike Jenkins because he's playing so good."
Faison said it wasn't that difficult getting ready to play the Saints, because Peele didn't let up on them after the Miami win.
"It wasn't that hard," Faison said. "Coach Peele goes at every game like it's a national championship. He stressed defense all week, all year really, and we came out and played great defense. We came out and brought our hard hats today."
During a seven or eight-minute stretch in the second half, Peele had all freshmen on the floor. Peele loved Faison's numbers, Justin Burton's floor play and Valentine's overall game.
"I think George had his best game," Peele said. "He had 10 rebounds, but he also played well in terms of positioning.
"But for all the young players, it was a good game in terms of confidence and getting some minutes."
And that could be a help going to Marshall Saturday. None of the starters played more than 19 minutes.
"We've just got to keep getting better," Peele said. "Mentally, we're not where I want to be."