Winthrop Defeats Charleston Southern, 68-46 to Win 2005 Advance Auto Parts Men's Basketball Championship

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ROCK HILL, S.C. -Winthrop forwards Craig Bradshaw and Phillip Williams combined for 6-of-9 three-pointers and Torrell Martin scored 11 second-half points in leading the No. 1 seed Eagles to a 68-46 win over No. 7 seed Charleston Southern in the Championship game of the 2005 Advance Auto Parts Big South Men's Basketball Championship Saturday at Winthrop Coliseum. Martin added a game-high nine rebounds and five steals and was awarded Tournament MVP honors in leading Winthrop to its fifth NCAA Tournament berth in seven years.

The Eagles (27-5) placed four players in double figures, led by Bradshaw’s 16 points. He scored the team’s first eight points, helping Winthrop finish the game 11-of-22 from beyond the arc. James Shuler added 14 points and pulled down four rebounds, while Williams chipped in 11 points as he connected on 3-of-5 from behind the arc. CSU leading scorer Kurtis Rice finished the game with 17 points and five boards, while Terrell Brown added 14 points on 4-of-7 behind the three-point line, including a perfect 3-of-3.

Charleston Southern (13-17), which made its first Big South Championship game appearance since 1997 when it won the title, kept the game tight in the opening half by shooting 50 percent and nailing five three-pointers. The Buccaneers tied the game at 22-22 with 4:02 left in the first half, the closest they would get the rest of the game. Winthrop entered halftime with a six-point lead at 31-25, but CSU closed the gap to five at 44-39 with 10:36 to play on a Nathan Ball lay-up. But the Eagles pulled away over the remaining nine minutes to close the game on a 19-7 run and kept Charleston Southern off the scoreboard the final 4:34. The Buccaneers shot 49 percent (18-of 37) from the field compared to Winthrop’s 39 percent (20-of-52), but the Eagles connected on 50 percent (11-of-22) from behind the arc to equal a season-high for most three-pointers made in a game.

Martin, who nailed 3-of-5 three-pointers in the second stanza, was voted Tournament MVP after averaging 16.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three Tournament games, which included a career-high 25 points in the semifinals against Birmingham-Southern. Winthrop’s Shuler joined Martin on the All-Tournament team, as did Charleston Southern’s Rice and Brown. Rice averaged 20.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and shot .730 from the floor (27-37) and 6-of-9 from the arc ( =.667) in the three games to lead Charleston Southern. Birmingham-Southern’s Jakob Sigurdarson rounds out the All-Tournament team.

Winthrop extends its Conference record for Tournament Championships to six, having won in 1988, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and now 2005. Big South Coach of the Year Gregg Marshall improves to 13-2 in Big South Tournament games, extending his League record. Winthrop, winner of 18 straight games, finishes the season with a perfect 16-0 home record.

QUOTES
Gregg Marshall, Winthrop
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Charleston Southern. I thought that Jim (Platt) had his team playing as well as possible. To go to Liberty and win and to go to High Point and win and then to come in here and play -- the game just seemed to be as tight as it could be. I think we had a five-point lead at halftime and we got it up some and then they brought it right back down. The difference in the game was the pressure. If we just had to grind it out and check it up at the top of the key after every possession it would have been very difficult to beat those guys, but we were able to get some steals to generate our fast break. When we break down the tape I think we’ll see that the transition from defense to offense was the difference in the game.”

Jim Platt, Charleston Southern
“We are blessed for the opportunity to progress to the Big South Championship game. It’s been a thrilling week for us and I’m very, very proud of our kids in the way they’ve played and conducted themselves all season. Our hats are off to Winthrop. I think Winthrop has proven themselves again today that they’re the best team in our league this year and because of that they deserve to win the ship and go to the NCAA Tournament. They’ve (Winthrop) done a great job and Gregg’s done a great job with their kids.”