Gardner-Webb falls short, 97-88, at Winthrop Thursday night

Winthrop beats Gardner-Webb

Press release provided by Gardner-Webb

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - Gardner-Webb made a furious rally in the second half, but fell behind too far early in a 97-88 loss at Winthrop.

Gardner-Webb (12-8, 2-3 Big South) lost its third in a row on the road to start league play and has now lost 10 in a row to Winthrop (14-6, 6-1 Big South). Gardner-Webb last won over the Eagles in Rock Hill on January 15, 2014.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs missed their first 10 field goals on the night, as Winthrop responded with an 18-0 run to lead 18-2 just six minutes in. The lead grew to as large as 21 points in the first half, as Winthrop closed off driving lanes and feasted from three-point range early on.

Gardner-Webb didn’t make its first field goal until 12:51 remained in the first half, when Jaheam Cornwall drove inside for a bank shot that cut Winthrop’s lead to 18-4.

Gardner-Webb trailed 47-26 at the break and made just 9-of-30 shots by halftime (30.0 percent), heating up over the final four minutes to get to that mark. A minus-9 deficit on the glass over the first 20 minutes (24-15) saw GWU grab just two offensive caroms and five turnovers allowed Winthrop to get out in transition.

The Eagles’ first half went smoothly on both ends, shooting 48.6 percent (17-of-35) overall and 10-of-23 from long distance (43.5 percent). Reserves Charles Falden and Adam Pickett each scored 10 points off the bench to lead Winthrop in that half.

As cold as GWU was in the first half, the second half saw the ‘Dogs shoot a crisp 69.7 percent overall (23-of-33), including eight in a row at one point.

Gardner-Webb was able to trim seven points off the margin quickly in the second half, making the score 53-38 on a DJ Laster jumper with 17:32 to play that forced an Eagles’ timeout.

Winthrop got it back quickly on a three-pointer from the key from Michael Anumba, but Gardner-Webb had another run in store midway through the half. A 7-0 spurt cut the Eagles’ lead to 69-57 with 10:02 remaining in the game, forcing another unscheduled timeout from the home team.

Eric Jamison, Jr., scored four points in that spurt, and a transition three-pointer from Nate Johnson cut the lead to four possessions.

Winthrop answered with a driving layup on the ensuing possession, however, and would eventually stretch its lead back past the 20-point mark.

Gardner-Webb made one more push, going on a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 85-75 with 2:31 to play. Winthrop halted the rally at the free throw line, but Gardner-Webb would get the lead as close as seven points with under a minute to play

The lead wilted down to 95-88 when Efianayi drove for a layup with 52.6 seconds left, but Winthrop was able to close the game out at the charity stripe.

Gardner-Webb finished the night at 50.8 percent from the floor, despite its very cold shooting effort early. That included a 10-for-26 effort from long range (38.5 percent).

Efianayi led all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and Jose Perez posted his second double-double in a row with 14 points and 10 boards. Laster (16 points) and Johnson (15 points) also reached double figures for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Winthrop shot an even 50 percent (31-of-62) and was exceptional beyond the arc – making 15-of-36 chances (41.7 percent) for a plus-15 scoring edge from long distance.

Broman led the Eagles with 20 points and Falden and Pickett each scored 19 points off the bench for Winthrop. Josh Ferguson had 11 points down low.

Gardner-Webb will stay on the road for its next game, traveling to face Charleston Southern at 5:30 pm on Saturday, January 26.

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