Sports

Peele plays whole team in Winthrop men's basketball team's win over North Greenville

Winthrop's Byron Faison and North Greenville's Luke Lattimer struggle for the ball.
Winthrop's Byron Faison and North Greenville's Luke Lattimer struggle for the ball.

One glance at the boxscore from Friday night's season-opening 67-42 win over North Greenville tells you plenty about Winthrop's basketball team.

Coach Randy Peele went to the bench early and often, played everyone he could find, 10 of them double-figure minutes and none one more than 28. Seven players had at least five points, and if the coaching staff gave out a game ball, they might have to chop it into pieces.

If you were looking for a star, there wasn't one.

"I'm real comfortable (playing) eight," Peele said. "Nine starts to bother me. Right now, we're playing 11, but that's the beauty of this team. The strength of this team is we're deep."

Sophomore Charles Corbin had 14 points and eight rebounds, junior college transfer Raymond Davis had 10 points and seven rebounds in his first start, and sophomore Byron Faison produced 10 points off the bench.

After a shaky first half, when the Eagles played like the young team they are and launched too many impatient shots, particularly 17 3-pointers, they turned in what Peele called "a workmanlike" effort.

"We played like a bunch of kids early in their first game," Peele said. "We rushed ourselves. In the first half, we were up 12 and should have been up 15, 17. In the second half, we settled down."

Corbin said the talk at halftime was about being more patient.

"We were taking too many quick shots," Corbin said. "We just had to get the jitters out."

Davis played 23 energy-filled minutes and admitted he had a case of the nerves when the game began.

"When I came in, I had the jitters, my face was crawling, my skin was crawling," Davis said, "but I felt like it was time, and I took advantage of my opportunity."

A lot of guys did.

"We've got 14 guys who don't care who gets the credit," Corbin said. "We just try to play hard. We don't care who makes the shot."

An eight-minute stretch that more or less summed up the Eagles started with 15 minutes to play and Winthrop ahead, 35-24. The Eagles went on a 21-6 run that saw six players score and just about everyone on the floor make a contribution.

Although Faison got it started with a couple of 3-pointers, the bulk of the run came with freshmen Reggie Middleton and Andre Jones, Davis, sophomore George Valentine and redshirt freshman Chris Malcolm on the floor.

Peele made an adjustment against the North Greenville zone, and Faison made it count stepping into those 3-pointers with confidence.

Valentine converted a three-point play after running the floor on a turnover, Middleton hit a 3-pointer and a floater in the lane at the end of the shot clock, Jones nailed a 3-pointer and Davis hit a runner off the baseline.

Middleton's shot at the end of the shot clock and Davis' cat-quick cross over move on the baseline were particularly impressive.

When the run ended, the Eagles led comfortably, 56-30.

After shooting 31 percent in the first half, the Eagles shot 53.6 in the second, threw in 41 points and won going away. They had 17 assists on 26 baskets and just 10 turnovers, excellent numbers for a first game.

Peele liked the defensive numbers, too.

The game goals were to hold the Crusaders to 42 points, which they did, and limit them to 35 percent shooting. They just missed that mark, with the Crusaders making 38.9.

"When we went to the bench, we got better," Peele said. "The mark of team is to have that ability. I thought we wore them down."

Things get a little more difficult on Sunday, when the Eagles go to South Carolina for a 4 p.m. game.

"We'll see what it looks like on Sunday," Peele said.

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