Winthrop University

Once 1-3 in the Big South, double-digit wins has Winthrop in uncharted territory

Winthrop's Xavier Cooks, shown playing earlier this week against Gardner-Webb, led the Eagles with 19 points in a win over Presbyterian Sunday.
Winthrop's Xavier Cooks, shown playing earlier this week against Gardner-Webb, led the Eagles with 19 points in a win over Presbyterian Sunday. Herald file photo

An 11-0 run in the second half helped Winthrop mens’ basketball to an 81-68 victory at Presbyterian College for a fourth straight win Sunday afternoon at the Ross E. Templeton Center.

Xavier Cooks was top-scorer for the Eagles (11-8, 5-3 Big South) with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and a pair of blocks. Josh Ferguson added 17 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks and Bjorn Broman contributed 13. He also grabbed three rebounds and had three assists.

Devon Bell (15 points, 1 rebound, 8 assists, 1 steal) led Presbyterian.

The two teams exchanged a few leads in the early going before J.C. Younger put Presbyterian ahead 9-8. Winthrop tied the game a couple of more times over the next few minutes, but after Kyle Zunic scored to knot it at 11-11, PC took back the lead and it held until late in the half.

Ethan Kay’s triple put Presbyterian back on top and the Blue Hose went on a run to build their largest lead midway through the half, 20-15. But Cooks knocked down a three followed by a stickback by Tom Pupavac to tie the game again at 20-20. After another trey by Kay, the Eagles turned the ball over on three straight possessions, allowing Presbyterian to build another lead.

With 3:58 to play, PC led 29-24, but the Eagles ended the half on a 10-4 run for a 34-33 lead at the break. Adam Pickett sparked the run with a three-point play and then five straight points by Austin Awad put the Eagles on top 32-31. Awad hit a three for the lead after Zunic had drawn a charge on the defensive end. Bell brought the Blue Hose back, but Anders Broman’s jumper made sure the Eagles would start the second half with the lead.

Winthrop shot 46 percent in the half while holding PC to 41 percent shooting.

After trading baskets several times to open the second half, the teams again were tied 39-39 before another Eagles run, this time 11-0, opened things up. The Eagles had three blocks during that run and four points each from Ferguson and Cooks while building a 50-39 lead. Kay snapped Winthrop’s run with a right wing three before the Eagles outscored the Blue Hose 16-5 to push the lead to 55-44 with 11:57 to play.

After Kay knocked down another three for Presbyterian, Awad dropped in a three of his own to start the Eagles on a 12-0 run that gave Winthrop its largest lead at 18 points (67-47).

PC did cut the deficit down toward the end behind a three from Kay, a Ruben Arroyo layup and two free throws from Bell.

The Eagles shot 65 percent from the floor in the second half (5-for-8 behind the arc and was perfect at the foul line (8-for-8). Winthrop finished the game shooting 56 percent from the floor, 41 percent from three-point range (9-for-22).

Presbyterian College shot 43 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown (8-for-20).

Winthrop out-rebounded the Blue Hose 34-25 and finished with a 16-10 advantage in second chance points.


▪ The Eagles won their ninth straight over Presbyterian College and fourth in a row at the Ross E. Templeton Center.

▪ Cooks is closing in on 900 career rebounds. He now has 887.

▪ Eagles have now won four straight games with all four wins by double-figures and the 68 points by PC are the most the Eagles have allowed during the streak

▪ This is the first Winthrop team to ever win the next four games after starting 1-3 in the Big South.

Next up

Winthrop will play its second straight game on the road when it heads to Farmville, Va., on Wednesday to take on Longwood at 7 p.m.