Winthrop upsets Camels 71-55 in Big South quarterfinal round

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The lower seeded team recorded an upset win for the second-straight game Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship as Winthrop downed Campbell 71-55 at Kimmel Arena.

Sixth-seeded Winthrop (12-19) will take on seventh seed VMI (16-15) in Thursday's 6:00 p.m. semifinal, which will be broadcast on ESPNU.  The Keydets eliminated second seed Coastal Carolina (19-11) 85-68 in Wednesday's first quarterfinal.

Senior guard Reggie Middleton scored 25 points, including 5-of-10 threes to lead the Eagles.  Andre Jones added 14, including 4-of-9 triples, for Winthrop, which converted 10 offensive rebounds into a 16-3 edge in points off turnovers.  Joab Jerome chipped in 8 points and 9 assists, while Matt Morgan came off the bench to add 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Darren White was the lone Camel in double figures with 15 points.  First-team all-conference forward Eric Griffin scored 8 points (8 under his average), grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 4 shots in his final collegiate game for the Camels, who shot just 41.9 percent and lost their fourth-straight contest.

"The difference in the game was that we threw it to the other team regularly, Middleton hit some deep threes early and we didn't block out very well.  There were a lot of empty trips for us," said Campbell head coach Robbie Laing.

After leading 35-26 at the break, Winthrop opened the second half on a 12-4 run.  Middleton's triple from the right side pushed the gap to 57-38 with 10:38 to play.  Campbell responded with a 12-2 burst to cut the margin to 59-50 when White knocked down a trey from the left wing to 4:08 left.

However, Middleton hit all 6 of his foul shots in the last 3:26 and CU never drew closer.

Winthrop took a 28-19 lead when George Valentine's jumper capped an 8-1 run with 5:01 left in the first half.  The Eagle edge reached 13 when Andre Jones canned a triple from the right wing with 1:28 to play.

Andrew Ryan's trey and a steal and layup by Amir Celestin helped the Camels cut the gap to 35-26 at the half.

Campbell shot 9-of-18 from the floor in the opening half, but was out-rebounded by a 17-10 margin.  The Eagles held an 11-0 advantage in 2nd-chance points before the break and a 13-8 edge in points off turnovers.

Middleton scored 11 first-half points, hitting 3-of-7 threes.  Celestin made all three of his shots in the opening period and led the Camels with 6 points.

In two wins over Winthrop during the regular season, the Camels trailed by at least 7 in the second half.  The Camels were unable to recover on Wednesday ending the careers of Griffin and fellow seniors Celestin and Lorne Merthie.

Notes:

  • Griffin finished his career with 134 blocked shots in 60 games (2.3 per contest), third-highest on CU's Division I era (since '77-78) charts.  His 73 blocks in the '11-12 season broke the record of 61 he set a year ago.  Griffin also finished this year with 268 rebounds, the 3rd-most in Camel Division I charts.
  • White's 536 points scored tied for the fourth-highest single-season tally in CU Division I history.  White and Griffin (486) combined for 1022 points in 2011-12, the 3rd-highest total by Camel teammates in the same span.
  • Merthie knocked down 3-of-6 threes on Wednesday and closed his career with 1051 points, 25th in Campbell's senior college (since '61-62) history and the 13th-highest total of the Division I era.  Merthie's 226 three-point field goals are the fourth-highest in school history.
  • Freshman Trey Freeman concluded the season with an 87.1 free throw percentage (101-116), tops in the Big South and the 4th-highest in Campbell's Division I history.  He twice set school records for consecutive free throws made in a year, including a string of 35 in a row.
  • After ranking among the nation's top five schools in team field goal percentage most of the year, Campbell finished with a 48.4 shooting percentage, second-highest in school Division I history.  Griffin's 61.0 shooting mark was the highest ever for a CU player with the NCAA minimum of at least five field goals made per game.