Photo: Winthrop Athletics
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – “We didn’t deserve to win the game.”
Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft offered that observation of his team’s result in Wednesday’s outing at Paul Porter Arena against South Division-leading Winthrop.
To be fair, Winthrop awoke from a recent cold spell, as well. The Eagles, who had made just five total threes in their last two games, went on a barrage from distance, canning 12 triples in an 81-70 decision over Gardner-Webb.
“I thought tonight – we were out of character tonight,” Craft said. “We allowed the excitement about this game, our crowd, the fact that people are talking about if we win, we’re tied for first – all those things, I think. Winthrop playing really well early made it worse. It allowed us to get out of character on both ends. We didn’t guard well enough and we weren’t patient enough to get good shots consistently.”
Lance Terry led Gardner-Webb and all scorers with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting. D’Maurian Williams joined Terry in doubles with 15 points and six boards, while Kareem Reid tallied 10 on 5-for-10 from the deck.
Cory Hightower paced Winthrop with 16, knocking down 6-of-10 tries. Four other Eagles contributed double-digit scoring, guided by Pat Good’s 15. Mike Anumba added 13, with Drew Buggs pouring in 12 off the bench and Sin’Cere McMahon finishing with 11.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Gardner-Webb jumped out to a 5-0 lead, as a Kareem Reid jumper and Lance Terry triple got the Runnin’ Bulldogs started early
Winthrop tore off a 7-1 run – keyed by five Buggs points – to seize a 13-12 advantage
Ademide Badmus scored on a close look at the tin to give Gardner-Webb the lead at 14-13 with 12:15 to play in the first half
Sin’Cere McMahon countered with a triple that gave Winthrop the lead back at 16-14 (12:06)
Following a Jordan Sears layup that tied the game at 16 with 10:38 to play, Chase Claxton put home a dunk and McMahon sank another three, putting Winthrop up five (9:00)
Gardner-Webb closed to within a point on two different occasions following a D’Maurian Williams layup and a Julien Soumaoro three, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs could never regain the lead
Terry scored the final two buckets of the opening stanza inside the final minute, but Winthrop still led, 37-32, at intermission
A Terry triple and Zion Williams layup inside a one-minute span knifed the Winthrop lead from eight to three at 40-37 (18:28)
Winthrop countered with a 13-5 burst – including eight points from Hightower -- that compelled a Tim Craft stoppage at the 15:25 mark
The lead hovered between eight and 12 for much of the remainder of the period, despite two D’Maurian Williams free throws that sliced the margin to seven (5:18) and a Williams three that cut it to five (1:11)
Winthrop closed out the game at the line, making eight free throws in the final 1:05 to help seal the victory
Winthrop made more free throws in the second half (16) than Gardner-Webb attempted in the entire game (9-for-15)
Winthrop splashed 12 threes in the game, marking just the third time this season Gardner-Webb has surrendered 10 or more triples in a game (Arkansas 13, Duke 10)
This was the 11th time this season Winthrop has knocked down 10 or more threes (season-high 16 at Washington State)
Gardner-Webb snatched just 28 rebounds, tying for its fourth-lowest total of the year (NC Central & Duke 26, Arkansas 25, Wofford 23)
Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft's teams have won 10 or more conference games in every season during his career in Boiling Springs (nine twice, including this year)
Winthrop's Mike Anumba attempted 10 free throws in the game (a season-high) and made eight (T-season high)
GARDNER-WEBB COACH TIM CRAFT
Opening statement: "It's kind of what I talked about all day (referring to being out of character). It's like, 'Hey, we need to focus on one thing. We've gotta have tunnel vision on doing our job at the highest level, and none of the other stuff matters.' We allowed the excitement about this game, our crowd, the fact that people are talking about if we win, we're tied for first, which really doesn't matter. There's still three games to play."
On Winthrop making 12 threes after having made five in the prior two games: "I think it was both (Winthrop's offense and Gardner-Webb missed defensive assignments). There were a few that we just made mistakes on -- like left some guys wide open. I thought in the first half, it was a little bit of over-help on guys we weren't supposed to over-help on, which is also a missed assignment. Some were getting us in rotation when we were trying to get the ball out of Burns's hands and he made a couple of really good passes. Then, they hit a couple in transition. It was a combination of all of those things. I thought their offensive execution in the first half was really good. We were a step behind everything. Credit them for really moving the ball with pace and getting us spinning a little bit. We've gotta be better. Hopefully, we can own this and look at this and this will help us be a better team."
On going zone for several possessions: "It was good in the first half. They didn't score on the zone in the first half. We gave up an open three at the end of the half, but they didn't score against it. We've played some zone. Our zone numbers have been terrific this year. Winthrop is always a team that really attacks the zone really well, so we don't play it much against them. We went into the game wanting to throw it out there early and try to give ourselves a little bit of confidence to play it late. In a lot of these games that we've been playing here, we've played a lot of zone late in the game and it's really helped us. We wanted to try to play it a little bit in the first half and try to get a little confidence in it. It was good for us in the first half.
In the second half, we went to it and they hit a three, and we just had no confidence to play it at that point. I thought our defense was better in the second half. It was a little grittier, but still, there were just too many missed assignments. They usually capitalize on it when we screw something up."
On Chase Claxton and Mike Anumba locking down D'Maurian Williams: "Those two guys are great defenders, first off. They really are. I thought he had a pretty good game -- he made three threes, he had five assists. He did a good job of sharing the ball and creating shots for other people.
When those two guys lock down on you, they're as good of one-on-one defenders as there are in the league. It's not a great feeling -- playing them last time, down the stretch, and seeing those guys -- one on D'Maurian and one on (guard) Lance (Terry). You're not gonna get anything easy on them."
On Winthrop being the aggressor: "I think probably most of the game, they were more the aggressor. I thought they played harder and had us on our heels for a lot of the game. I think they deserve a lot of credit for coming in here and playing with a chip on their shoulder and an edge that we weren't ready to answer."
On Lance Terry being assessed a Class B technical for "redunking" a missed dunk: "Because he kind of hung up on the rim and then let go -- I think if he hadn't grabbed the ball and dunked it back in, it would not have been a technical. There were people under (the rim), so you kind of want to hang on it so you don't fall on somebody. What (referee) AJ (Desai) said is that once he grabbed the ball and it put it back, it has to be a one-shot technical. I've never really seen a play like that, to be honest with you, where we got it off the rim or whatever."
On what he told the team after the game: "What I told our team is that we really didn't deserve to win the game. We talk about our identity and we have four areas that consists of, and that wasn't where it needed to be tonight. Let's say we make the two dunks we missed, a guy made a layup he missed, or we throw in one of those threes. All of a sudden, we come out winning the game. We're gonna feel great about ourselves tonight.
We didn't really deserve to win that game, even if some shots had gone down. We didn't play the right way consistently enough. For moments, we did. Consistently enough (for the entire game), we just did not. Maybe that's what we need to take us down the stretch."
WINTHROP 81, GARDNER-WEBB 70
WINTHROP (18-8, 11-2 BIG SOUTH): Hightower 6-10 1-2 16, Burns 3-5 2-2 8, Claxton 1-2 0-0 2, McMahon 4-7 0-0 11, Anumba 2-5 8-10 13, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Talford 1-3 2-2 4, Good 4-12 3-4 15, Buggs 4-6 3-4 12. Totals 25-51 19-24 81.
GARDNER-WEBB (15-11, 9-4): Reid 5-10 0-0 10, Dufeal 0-1 0-2 0, Terry 7-14 3-4 21, E. Williams 4-9 4-4 15, Z. Williams 3-6 1-3 7, Selden 4-6 0-0 9, Soumaoro 1-4 1-2 4, Sears 1-6 0-0 2, Badmus 1-1 0-0 2, L. Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 9-15 70.
Halftime — Winthrop 37-32. 3-Point Goals—Winthrop 12-26 (Hightower 3-5, Claxton 0-1, McMahon 3-5, Anumba 1-4, Jones 0-1, Good 4-11, Buggs 1-1), Gardner-Webb 9-29 (Terry 4-9, D. Williams 3-8, Z. Williams 0-1, Selden 1-3, Soumaoro 1-4, Sears 0-3, L. Williams 0-1). Fouled Out — Z. Williams (GWU). Rebounds —Winthrop 38 (Good 7), Gardner-Webb 28 (Dufeal/D. Williams/Selden 6). Assists —Winthrop 13 (McMahon/Anumba 3), Gardner-Webb 13 (D. Williams 5). Total Fouls — Gardner-Webb 22, Winthrop 12. Technical — Burns (WU), McMahon (WU). A —1012.
HUSTLE STATS Points in the paint: Gardner-Webb 32, Winthrop 24
Points off turnovers: Gardner-Webb 16, Winthrop 11
Second-chance points: Gardner-Webb 9, Winthrop 7
Fast-break points: Winthrop 8, Gardner-Webb 6
Gardner-Webb travels to Clinton, S.C., to battle Presbyterian. Game time Saturday in the Templeton Center is set for 4:00. Winthrop travels to Asheville’s Kimmel Arena for a 4:30 Saturday start.