|( Joab Jerome/Johnsonian.com)|
Forward Joab Jerome scored seven of his 20 points in the final four minutes, including a key three-pointer, to lead Winthrop to an 80-72 victory over Appalachian State at Winthrop Coliseum on Sunday.
The complexion of the game looked considerably different down the stretch than it did in the first 12 minutes. Winthrop raced out to a 33-14 lead at the under-eight media timeout, controlling the tempo throughout much of the early first half. Appalachian State was shooting just 6-of-17 from the floor (35.3 percent) before the stoppage, with only one of five Mountaineer threes finding the bottom of the basket. Winthrop, by contrast, hit nine of their first 14 shots (64.3 percent), converting 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) from distance. Appalachian State went on a 22-8 run to close out the half, though, bringing the Mountaineer deficit to just five at 41-36 as the teams left the floor at the half. Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel said of the first twenty minutes, “Give Winthrop a lot of credit. I thought they came out and hit us in the mouth early. They moved the ball, they defended, they made us pay for our mistakes there in the first half.”
The game quickly became marred by fouls, as the teams combined for 25 fouls in the first half and 51 fouls on the game. Capel was asked about the disruption of the flow of the game by the large number of fouls, responding, “That’s a loaded question that everybody in here knows I can’t answer. You saw my theatrics on the sideline [....] I think that answers the question right there.” Appalachian State was already in the bonus by the under-16 media timeout in the second half, as Winthrop committed seven fouls in the first 4:28 of the period. Tevin Baskin and Tab Hamilton fouled out for the Mountaineers, while Larry Brown fouled out for the Eagles. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey commented on the physical nature of the game, saying of Appalachian State, “They’re an attacking team, that’s what they do. They want to attack you, put fouls on you, get a shot up on the rim and then go get it. They do that pretty well. That’s a strong, athletic team.”
The teams mostly traded baskets early in the second half, with Winthrop eventually stretching their lead back to nine on several occasions. Just as they did in the first half, however, Appalachian State came back to deliver another punch to Winthrop. The Mountaineers went on an 8-0 run over a three-minute span, riding conversions from Tommy Spagnolo, Chris Burgess and Ty Toney. Burgess’ two free throws topped off the run and brought the Mountaineers to within one at 66-65 with 5:18 remaining. The Eagles got a key bucket from guard Keon Moore on the ensuing possession, and Appalachian guard Tab Hamilton’s fourth foul sent Moore to the line, where he converted the three-point play. Two Ty Toney free throws again brought Appalachian within one, but Joab Jerome drained a three-pointer from the corner with 2:55 to go in the game that proved to be the margin from which Appalachian State could not recover. Winthrop hit seven free throws over the final 1:45 to seal the result.
Winthrop (6-2) has won each of their five outings this season at Winthrop Coliseum. Though the Eagles are off to a great start, Kelsey was quick to keep things in perspective. “The season’s a lifetime [...] We’re nowhere where we want to be, but we’re proud of what these guys have done to this point. (Former Winthrop and current Wichita State head coach Gregg) Marshall talked about ‘playing angry’. I don’t want to steal his thunder, so we sort of talk about playing with an edge, practicing with an edge. Whenever you feel like you’ve accomplished something, you’re satisfied, that’s when somebody’s gonna come up and smack you in the mouth. [...] We’re not a team, a coaching staff, a roster of players that are gonna rest on our laurels. We better get back to work tomorrow ready to go, because we’re walking into a lion’s den on Wednesday (at North Carolina Central), I can promise you that.”
The Eagles were led by Jerome, who scored 20 points in 22 minutes of play. Guards Keon Johnson (15 points) and Keon Moore (11) also reached double figures for Winthrop. The Eagles shot 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the field, converting 27-of-40 (67.5 percent) from the free throw line. Appalachian State (2-7) also featured three double-digit scorers, with guard Tab Hamilton topping his team. Hamilton scored 20 points of his own, with guard Chris Burgess (15 points) and forward Tevin Baskin (12) joining him in that category. The Mountaineers shot 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the field and 73.9 percent (17-of-23) from the line.
Appalachian State returns to action in Clinton, South Carolina against Presbyterian at 7:00pm Eastern on Wednesday, December 18. Winthrop travels to Durham, North Carolina to take on North Carolina Central, also at 7:00pm Eastern on Wednesday.
Both coaches press conferences can be listened to here:
Winthrop Coach Pat Kelsey Press Conference
(December 15, 2013)
Game Story and Audio by Brian Wilmer, Big South Reporter, @SportsMatters