Winthrop survived a back-and-forth game at Coastal Carolina Wednesday night that saw 16 lead changes as it captured a third straight win with a 75-68 victory at The HTC Center.
Winthrop (11-9, 6-3 Big South) has won three of the last four meetings with the Chanticleers (15-6, 6-3). Winthrop will look for four in a row as it remains on the road and heads to Radford, Va., to take on Radford at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31. So far this season the Eagles are 4-1 on the road in league play.
“Andre Smith made some big time shots,” said Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey. “Sometimes games come down to guys making plays. A couple of those weren’t anything we drew up or called, it was Andre made a big time pull up. Keon Moore ripped from right to left and got to the other side of the rim to make a really tough shot around the rim. Those are two really, really big time plays so you really got to credit our kids for stepping up at big time moments in a hostile environment making game-winning plays.”
In a game where neither team seemed to be able to pull away, Smith stepped up in a big way for the Eagles down the stretch after going scoreless in the first half mainly due to foul trouble. The Eagles trailed 57-56 when Smith drained a three for a two-point advantage and then Coastal tied the game almost immediately. However, Smith canned another three on the following possession for a 62-59 lead with 5:17 to play.
After Warren Gillis made it a one-point game with a floater the Eagles responded with a Moore layup as he drove down the heart of the lane and scored off glass and then Smith stepped up and hit an elbow jumper as the shot clock was winding down to give Winthrop a 66-61 lead with 1:48 to play. The ensuing Coastal possession Smith came away with a steal that led to the Eagles increasing their lead to six points. The Eagles went 9-for-12 at the free throw line the rest of the way as Coastal Carolina decided to foul.
Moore finished with a game-high 22 points as he was 7-for-16 from the field as he also tied for the team-high with eight rebounds. He was joined in double-figures by Tevin Prescott as he finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Derrick Henry added nine points off the bench and Xavier Cooks had nine points and eight rebounds.
Winthrop shot 47 percent for the game and held Coastal Carolina to 41 percent but a big part of the game was the job the Eagles did on the boards with a 36-33 advantage and second chance points 11-9.
Coastal Carolina’s Shivaughn Wiggins scored a team-high 18 points and dished out four assists while Gillis and Badou Diagne added 13 points. Diagne also finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
Winthrop’s Keon Johnson, who finished with eight points, opened the scoring in the game by knocking down a three for an early lead but the Chanticleers reeled off nine straight points for a six-point advantage with 16:27 left. Winthrop answered with five straight points to make it a one point game and from that point neither team led by more than three points the remainder of the half.
After trailing 9-3 early, Winthrop went on a 12-5 run to take a 15-14 lead. Tristian Curtis’ dunk off a drive-and-dish from Michel Enanga put Coastal up 22-19 with just over nine minutes left in the half. Winthrop came right back again as Moore provided a dunk of his own as he faked a pass and drove baseline creating an open path to the basket and he flushed it. That was followed by a Henry runner down the middle of the lane for a 23-22 lead.
Every time one team looked to take a two-possession lead, the other team had an answer. Diagne drained a three for a 32-29 lead with 2:50 on the clock and after a couple of missed jumpers by both teams, Moore drained a three to tie the game again at 32-32 with just under two minutes remaining.
There were 10 different lead changes in the first half as the Eagles led 35-34 at the break, which was the first half time lead by Winthrop in a road game a Coastal Carolina since Feb. 6, 2008. There were also six ties.
The Eagles shot 41 percent from the floor in the first half and were 5-for-11 from three while holding Coastal Carolina to 34 percent shooting and 33 percent from three. Despite not shooting well in the first half, the Chanticleers kept it a one-possession game at the half by going 12-for-14 at the foul line.