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By Lut Williams
Black College Sports Page

ROCK HILL, SC – Big South second seed Winthrop survived an early blitz by Hampton coming back from a halftime deficit to knock off the Pirates 76-68 to win the league’s tournament title and punch its ticket to the NCAA Big Dance.HAM MarrowLaunchesJumper Big SouthHampton senior guard Jermaine Marrow launches a jumper during Sunday's Big South Championship game in Rock Hill, SC. Marrow led the Pirates with 18 points in a 76-68 loss to Winthrop.

Playing in front of a packed house on Winthrop’s home floor, Hampton led 22-7 early and went into the break up 33-28. But Winthrop’s 6-9, 260-pound freshman center D. J. Burns fueled a second-half comeback that allowed the Eagles (24-10) to come away with the win.

For the fifth-seeded Pirates (15-19), who split regular season games with the Eagles and knocked out conference top seed Radford in the tourney semifinals Friday, it was a matter of not being able to finish after a great start.

“I’m not a man of excuses,” said Hampton head coach Ed “Buck” Joyner Jr. “We just didn’t get the job done and Winthrop did. They made a few more shots than we did and they made some stops, plain and simple.”

Burns, a hometown product who spent one redshirt season at Tennessee before coming to Winthrop, scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, none more critical than during a stretch early in the second half when he scored eight straight points for the Eagles. Those baskets were part of a 15-5 run that allowed Winthrop to take its first lead of the game at 43-42 on a 3-pointer by reserve guard Charles Falden at the 12:11 mark.

The Pirates took their final lead at 44-43 on a tip in by Greg Heckstall before Winthrop pulled away. Burns converted two more baskets as the Eagles went up 55-46 with just over seven minutes left. Hampton cut the lead to five on two occasions, and despite repeatedly sending the Eagles to the line down the stretch, could get no closer.

First-team all-Big South senior guard Jermaine Marrow, the league’s top scorer (25.3 ppg.), led the Pirates with 18 points but canned just five of 19 shots, one of ten from behind the arc. Fellow first teamer, 6-7 sophomore forward Ben Stanley, had 15 points, just six in the second half when the Winthrop defense keyed on him.

“It’s tough to go out like this,” said Marrow, who finished with six assists and five turnovers. “But I’m living with the way I played out there today.”

“He’s just a fierce competitor,” said victorious Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey of Marrow. “We have a good little relationship. He always comes over and gives me a hug (before a game) and then goes out and kicks our tail. I’m glad he’s graduating.”

Junior forward Davion Warren had 11 points for Hampton before fouling out. Senior Greg Heckstall had 8 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

“Give them credit,” said Marrow, “they played good defense in the second half. Burns hit some tough shots – for a freshman he hit some tough shots – and they made their free throws. They won the game, hats off to them.”

Winthrop had three others score ten points – Hale Hunter Chase Claxton and Chandler Vaudrin.

Hampton got off to a fast start, building a 22-7 lead by the 12:31 mark. Stanley scored seven of Hampton’s first 10 points. The Eagles fought back however, going on a 21-8 run to pull within two at 30-28 on a Vaudrin drive with 1:20 left in the half. Heckstall canned a big 3-pointer with :21 seconds left to give the Pirates a 33-28 lead at the break.

Stanley had nine points and Heckstall each eight in the first half to lead Hampton. Vaudrin’s six led Winthrop.

NOTABLES:

• Marrow (25.0 ppg.) and Stanley (22.2) finished 1-2 in Big South scoring and were both named first team all-Big South. Stanley, from Baltimore, was second in rebounding (7.3 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.581). Marrow, who near the end of the season passed Rick Mahorn as the all-time leading scorer in Hampton history, led the league in assists (6.6 apg.). He dished out six assists and had five turnovers in the championship game.

• Marrow finished his career with 2,680 points, passing David Robinson for 17th on the all-time Div. I scoring list.

• “Unbelievable,” is how Marrow, a Newport News, Virginia native, described his career at Hampton. “Coach Buck Joyner gave me the keys as soon as I came here. He made me work. He changed my whole mentality in terms of how I was coming to Hampton. A lot of people didn’t believe in me. a lot of people thought I would get kicked out of school and didn’t want me to stay home. I made it here. I’m a senior and I’ll probably have a great chance to get paid to play basketball.”

• Stanley had 31 points on 13 of 17 shooting when Hampton defeated Winthrop 87-81 on Feb. 22. Marrow had 23 points in that win while Warren had 18 points and 11 rebounds.

 

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