Winthrop used an 18-0 run early in the second half to open up the game as it cruised to an 83-59 victory over Longwood Saturday evening at Willett Hall.
The victory is the third straight for Winthrop (16-11, 11-5 Big South).
“When we go on offensive runs it’s usually our defense,” said Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey, referring to the Eagles strong defensive effort during the run that led to several baskets. “When we string stops together, that’s when the lead usually expands and we really get going offensively and I think that was the difference.”
Quincy Taylor’s long jumper on the baseline cut Winthrop’s lead to 39-33 just two minutes into the second half when the Eagles scored 18 straight points, highlighted by 7 points from senior Keon Moore, who finished with 15 points. The run started with an Andre Smith jumper and then a Tevin Prescott steal led to a Moore triple as Keon Johnson drove the lane and kicked it to Moore as he drained the 3 for a 44-35 lead.
Winthrop didn’t stop there – the next four points came from redshirt freshman Duby Okeke who he hammered home two big dunks to keep the momentum in the Eagles favor. After Okeke’s second dunk put the Eagles up 13 points, Johnson came away with a steal and scored on the other end to force a Longwood (8-21, 4-12) timeout. It didn’t slow up the Eagles as Okeke provided a couple of blocks on the next Longwood possession as his second one led to a 3-pointer from Andre Smith for a 53-35 lead with 14:11 to play. Moore then drained a 3 while getting fouled in the process to complete a four-point play and the 18-0 run.
The Eagles shot 43 percent in the first half but knocked down 53 percent of their shots in the second half, including 5-for-12 from 3. The Eagles were 21-for-30 from the foul line (1-for-6 in the final 3:05). Longwood finished the game shooting just 35 percent and had 15 turnovers the Eagles turned into 19 points.
Johnson led the Eagles in scoring with 16 points and he finished with three assists and tied his career-high with three steals. Johnson and Moore were joined in double-figures by Derrick Henry, who scored nine of his 13 points in the first half off the bench. Xavier Cooks added 11 points while Prescott finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The first 20 minutes were a back-and-forth affair as the Eagles led 7-4 early after Cooks scored on a drive to the basket. Henry put the Eagles up 11-9 as he boarded his own miss inside before Taylor drained his first three of game for a 12-11 lead for the Lancers.
With the game tied at 19-19 with 7:49 to play in the half, Taylor scored on a jumper in the lane, and a few possessions later Leron Fisher knocked down two free-throws for Longwood’s biggest lead at 23-19 with 5:50 remaining. The Eagles didn’t score for three and a half minutes but allowed the Lancers to grab only a 4-point advantage. Henry ended the drought as he scored on a drive followed by a steal-and-score by Johnson to tie the game at 23-23 with 4:31 left. Those two baskets started a 13-5 run to end the half as the Eagles led 32-28 at the break.
Taylor was the only Lancer in double-figures – he led all scorers with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 3-for-4 behind the arc. Jason Pimentel added 9 points and four rebounds off the bench.
Winthrop clinched a winning record in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2006-07 and 2007-08, and there are two regular season games remaining before the Big South Conference Championship starts March 4. The win also gives the Eagles five road wins in league games for the first time since 2006-07.
Winthrop will go for its fourth straight win on Thursday when it travels to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on Campbell at 7 p.m.