Joshua Davenport's 22 points off bench provided spark Winthrop needed in 94-81 road win over Manhattan. (Photo by the Rock Hill Herald)
RIVERDALE, NY -- Manhattan provided free admission and complimentary refreshments for their fans at Tuesday's home opener, hoping to capitalize on an early morning audience and a nationally televised broadcast as part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon.
As it turned out, their opponent seemed to have imbibed with a stronger brew of coffee.
Overcoming a contest that saw a grand total of 68 personal fouls called, Winthrop and their uptempo attack came into Draddy Gymnasium, and after a seesaw first half; seized control with a 17-2 run spanning the end of the opening stanza and beginning of the second period, powering their way to a 94-81 victory in the Jaspers' home opener.
"I thought our guys played with poise," Pat Kelsey said as his Eagles (2-0) saw four players surpass double figures in scoring, with Keon Johnson and Joshua Davenport tallying 22 points each to lead the charge in a winning cause. "We talked about, they want to create heavy metal music, so we played Metallica at a million-decibel level in the Coliseum the other day, and I told them 'I want you to have Mozart going on in your minds.' It's hard to play with poise when they come at you as hard as they do."
On a day where Winthrop's primary option, forward Xavier Cooks, was limited to only six points before fouling out, the Eagles were not only poised, but collectively wired together. For the game, the Big South Conference preseason favorite tallied 20 assists on 24 made field goals, good enough for an 83 percent assist rate that ranks as incredibly exemplary against the pressure defense of the Jaspers.
"The mark of a good team, I think, is when a guy is in foul trouble and other guys step up," said Kelsey. "I thought it was a good team win. Every time we called a guy's name, he played really well. I think we shared the ball, we played connected, and we gave up good shots for great shots. "
Manhattan (0-2) saw five players score in double digits, paced by 16 points from Zavier Turner, but still attempted to threaten in the closing minutes. Although the Jaspers would get no closer than 11 points, their defensive intensity was on full display before being done in by a Winthrop team that salted the game away at the foul line, connecting on 36 of their 42 free throw attempts.
"Tough loss," Steve Masiello said of the effort. "We didn't play particularly well, Winthrop played very well. We've got to get ready for Friday."
Manhattan concludes their two-game homestand Friday, welcoming Hofstra to Draddy Gymnasium in a 7 p.m. tipoff.