ROCK HILL, SC – The Roanoke College men’s basketball team gave NCAA Division I opponent a run for their money at their Homecoming night on Saturday, leading Winthrop University by as many as 12 points in the first half. However, the Eagles came out strong in the second half as the Maroons fell in the exhibition game, 93-74.
Winthrop is the third NCAA Division I team that the Maroons have opened their season against in the last four years. In 2011, Roanoke took on Furman University, and in the previous year, the Maroons faced off against the University of Virginia. In these games, the contest counts as an exhibition for the Division III Maroons, but is a recorded contest for the Division I schools. Therefore, after tonight’s meeting, Winthrop opens the season with a record of 1-0.
The Maroons and the Eagles opened up the first half going back and forth, each trading pairs of three point baskets. Senior Stefan Vulevic hit Roanoke’s first three points of the night, assisted by Ethan Humphries. After Winthrop hit another three to go up 6-3, Andrew Daniels picked up an offensive rebound, then knocked down a trey of his own to tie the game at 6-6. At this point, Roanoke started to build a lead. Daniel Eacho, Daniels and Alexander Weant all combined for eight consecutive points for Roanoke, taking a 14-6 lead.
After the Eagles started to close the gap by way of free throws, Roanoke started to peak again. Weant scored six of Roanoke’s next nine points as Roanoke went up by eight again. Roanoke’s largest lead of the night came at the 7:11 mark as Cameron Smith hit a layup to give the Maroons a 12-point, 29-17 lead over Winthrop. For the next three minutes, Roanoke’s lead fluxuated between 12 to six points, as Julian Ramirez kept the Maroons in the contest, hitting 3-of-4 free throws in that time period. Winthrop battled back through the end of the first half, pulling within one with nine seconds to play. However, The Maroons went the length of the court in the final moments of the period and put in one final layup to enter the locker room at halftime ahead 40-37.
At the half, Roanoke was outshooting Winthrop 41.7 percent to 39.4 percent, as well as outrebounding the Division I squad, 28-17. Despite having three more turnovers at half than the Eagles, the Maroons had 10 assists to Winthrop’s three.
The Maroons stayed hot at the start of the second half as Eacho opened with a jumper, followed by a Daniels three-pointer to put Roanoke up by eight again, 45-37. After another Winthrop basket, Eacho put in another layup to maintain the eight-point advantage. At this point, Winthrop turned on the heat on Roanoke, as the Eagles went on an 11-3 run to put a halt to the Maroons lead that they held for 20-plus minutes. Eacho put in one more jumper to reclaim the lead, 52-51, but that was the last lead Roanoke would hold for the night.
Four different Winthrop players scored in an 11-0 run that gave the Eagles a 10-point lead with 11:23 to play. A layup by Ramirez and a free throw by Eacho pulled Roanoke back within seven with 10 minutes to play. The Division I Eagles went on another run, this time of 12-1, taking an 18-point lead, which would be their second largest of the night. The Eagles held off the fighting Maroons for the remainder of the contest, as Winthrop picked up the victory, 93-74 over Roanoke.
Roanoke shot 40 percent from the field on Saturday afternoon against Winthrop, while the Eagles improved after halftime to 43.5 percent. The Maroons maintained their rebound advantage in the second half, outrebounding the Eagles 48-41 for the contest.
Andrew Daniels led the Maroons in scoring with 15 points, while Daniel Eacho and Cameron Smith each finished with 11. Also scoring in double-digits was freshman John Fitchett, who put up 10 points and three rebounds on the night. Eacho was one rebound shy of a double-double, pulling down a team high nine boards. He was followed in rebounding by Cameron Smith, who finished with seven. Ethan Humphries dished out seven assists, leading all players in that category.
The Maroons will open up regular season action against Gordon College on Saturday, November 16th at 2:00 PM, as part of the Goucher Invitational. Roanoke will play host school Goucher on Sunday, November 17th at 2:00 PM as well.
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