Junior Josh Ferguson posted a double-double with a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds to help lead Winthrop to a 79-71 win at Southern Illinois on Saturday at SIU Arena in Carbondale, Ill.
The Salukis jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead as Winthrop scored seven seconds into the game on a layup by Sean Lloyd. Kavion Pippen scored inside followed by a three-point play from Lloyd for the 7-0 lead.
Eagles answered right back with as Nych Smith drove the lane to get the Eagles on the board and then Josh Ferguson made it five straight with a three. After Pippen put the Salukis up 9-5, Winthrop reeled off five straight points again as Bjorn Broman got a friendly bounce for a three followed by a slam by Ferguson off a nice dish from Smith for a 10-9 lead with 16:35 left.
Winthrop didn’t stop as it made it a 9-0 run behind a basket off the drive from Adam Pickett and another jam from Ferguson for a 14-9 advantage.
After starting the game 1-for-5 the Eagles knocked down their next five shots to help turn the seven-point deficit into a five-point lead in the early going. An 8-0 run pushed Southern Illinois back into the lead at 20-14. A steal from Pickett eventually led to a score by Smith inside to end the run as the Eagles trailed 20-16 with 10 and a half minutes remaining in the half.
Winthrop regained the lead on back-to-back threes from Austin Awad, 25-23 with 7:13 left. Then Ferguson made it three consecutive possessions with a three to lead 28-23. With 6:01 left in the half, the Eagles led 30-25 but then went on a tear behind the arc.
Smith drained a three with 5:16 left for a seven-point lead, and then Ferguson hit threes on back-to-back possessions for a 39-29 lead. Smith pushed the lead to 13 points at 42-29 when he drained his second triple of the half and then Kyle Zunic made it a 12-0 run as he buried a three with 2:18 left.
The run came to an end as Pippen freed himself in the lane for a dunk that cut the Eagles lead to 14. Winthrop pushed the lead to as much as 18 points, but led 49-34 at the break.
Winthrop ended the half shooting 51 percent from the floor, 44 percent from three and was 3-for-3 at the foul line. SIU shot 44 percent from the floor, 43 percent behind the arc and was 11-of-12 at the free throw line.
Eagles forced 10 turnovers in the first half and took advantage with 14 points off turnovers.
In the second half, Southern Illinois scored the first four points of the half, but Ferguson boarded a missed three from Smith as he put the Eagles on the board with a reverse layup.
The Eagles lead was down to 52-42 with 15:35 left as they opened up the second half 1-of-7 from the floor.
An 8-3 run by Winthrop pushed the lead to 60-45 with 11:51 to play as Austin Awad knocked down a very deep three for the 15-point advantage.
Lloyd cut the Eagles lead to single-digits on a tip-in with 8:43 left, 62-53 but the Winthrop offense responded with back-to-back threes from Ferguson and Zunic for a 68-53 lead.
Eric McGill hit a jumper following the Zunic three and following a turnover McGill drained a three to make a 10-point game with just over seven minutes remaining.
McGill made it a 10-point game again with 4:24 left as he hit 1-of-2 free throws and then made it an eight point game with 3:24 after hitting a jumper.
Bjorn Broman quickly pushed the lead back to double-figures as he drained a three with just over three minutes to play for a 73-62 lead. Broman helped seal the win going 4-for-4 at the foul line while Zunic was 2-for-2 in the final 45 seconds.
Winthrop is now 2-4 against the Missouri Valley Conference with both wins coming on the road (at Southern Illinois/at Missouri State). Eagles improve to 46-3 all-time under Kelsey when holding a lead of 10 more points at the half.
Eagles will be back in action Dec. 29 at noon inside the Winthrop Coliseum when they take on Prairie View A&M.