Winthrop Men's Basketball Defeats USC Upstate


Winthrop Men’s Basketball Defeats USC Upstate


ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Winthrop guard Andre Smith scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half as the Eagles defeated USC Upstate 82-74 at Winthrop Coliseum on Wednesday.

The Spartans appeared ready to create some separation from the Eagles, leading by as many as eight points in the first half before Winthrop took their first lead of the game at 24-23 on a Jarad Scott basket.  The teams traded scores before a defensive stop on the Spartans’ final possession of the half sent the teams to the locker room tied at 39.  Upstate shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) in the first half, converting 60 percent (6-of-10) from behind the three-point arc. The Eagles shot just 40 percent (12-of-30) from the floor, and 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from three.

Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey commented on his team’s outside shooting in the half, saying, “I thought early on we were shooting too many of them (threes) [...] We always want to attack and be able to get paint touches and put pressure on the defense.”

The “paint touches” to which Kelsey referred became much more prevalent in the second twenty minutes.

The offensive back-and-forth continued as the second half began, with three ties and three Winthrop leads in the first two minutes and seventeen seconds of the half.  Upstate forward Ricardo Glenn was fouled by James Bourne in the act of shooting, with Glenn converting the basket and the ensuing foul shot, giving the Spartans a 46-45 lead.  That free throw would represent the final Spartan lead of the evening.

This does not mean a victory came easy for the Eagles, though.

Winthrop controlled the tempo for much of the second half, opening its largest lead at 70-56 on an Andre Smith three-pointer with 7:07 remaining.  Spartan coach Eddie Payne commented on the tempo change in the second half, saying, “I thought they got the ball off the bounce into the lane too many times.”  Upstate was not done, though, going on a 16-5 run over the next 4:49.  Spartan star Torrey Craig drained a three to cut the Eagle lead to 75-72, after which Payne called a timeout.

Considering the veterans on Upstate’s team and their victory over ACC opponent Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Spartans would clearly have that one last punch remaining, and Kelsey spoke of what he told his team in that timeout.  “We harp consistency all the time.  We don’t play the scoreboard, we play the game.  They’re a really good team, and they’re really well-coached.  You knew they weren’t going to go away.  You knew that run was coming.  We’ve got a lot of character kids in that locker room and they have a lot of competitive toughness.  They weathered it, and found a way to get the ‘W’.”

Winthrop turned the ball over with 2:03 remaining, giving Upstate the chance to tie or take the lead, but the Spartans then turned it over themselves.  A Smith jumper on the following possession essentially put the game away, as Upstate could draw no closer than 79-74 after two Ty Greene free throws with 13 seconds remaining.

Craig led all scorers with 31 points, which tied a career high he set against UT-San Antonio last December.  Craig was 11-of-20 from the floor (5-of-9 from three-point range), despite hitting just four of his ten second-half shots.  Greene (21 points, 7-of-12 shooting) and forward Ricardo Glenn (14 points, 5-of-9 shooting) also registered in double figures for the Spartans.  Glenn played much of the second half in foul trouble, hampering the Spartans’ inside game.

Smith paced the Eagles with 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting, four of which were three-pointers.  Forward Joab Jerome contributed 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, and former walk-on Tevin Prescott added 10 for Winthrop. 

The teams’ shooting percentages were almost mirror images, as Upstate followed their 57.7 percent first half with a 40 percent (12-for-30) second half.  Winthrop’s 12-for-30 first half turned into a 56 percent (14-for-25) second half.  The Eagles outrebounded the Spartans 34-29, and almost doubled the Spartans’ free throw attempts.  Winthrop converted 22-of-28 from the line, while Upstate was 12-of-15.

The Eagles (2-0) travel to Richmond, Virginia on Saturday to take on 14th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth.  USC Upstate (1-1) will play Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, also on Saturday.

POSTGAME AUDIO:  USC Upstate Head Coach Eddie Payne

POSTGAME AUDIO:  Winthrop Head Coach Pat Kelsey