Saturday , Mar , 03 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Winthrop battles VMI in Big South Tourney title tilt

Rock Hill, SC (Sports Network) – The top-seeded Winthrop Eagles and sixth-
seeded VMI Keydets will square off this afternoon in the championship game
of the Big South Conference Tournament.

A win by VMI would give the program its first NCAA Tournament berth since
the 1976-77 season. After beating third-seeded Liberty by one point in
the quarterfinal round of this tournament, the Keydets recorded a 91-81
decision over second-seeded High Point in Thursday’s semifinal game. VMI is
gunning for its first Big South Conference title and fourth conference
championship overall.

Winthrop has won this event seven times, more than any other member of the
Big South. Even more impressive is the fact that the Eagles have won the
last two championships and six of the last eight since 1999. They earned a
quarterfinal bye and crushed fifth-seeded UNC-Asheville by a 79-60 final in
the semifinals.

Winthrop holds a 7-5 edge in the all-time series with VMI, and the Eagles won
both meetings during the regular season by double figures.

With three steals this evening, VMI would break Oklahoma’s NCAA Division I
record of 486 takeaways set back in 1987-88. The Keydets already own the
Division I record for most three-pointers made and attempted in a season, and
they are the highest-scoring team in the nation by a wide margin. While many
players contribute at the offensive end for VMI, Reggie Williams is the
nation’s leading scorer and the most feared performer for the squad. After
scoring 23 points against Liberty in the quarterfinal round, Williams landed
right on his average with 28 points against High Point on Thursday. Travis
Holmes pitched in 18 points and 10 boards for the Keydets, who placed five
scorers in double figures. Clearly, a 15-4 advantage in points from the foul
line proved key for VMI.

Like VMI, Winthrop had five double-digit scorers in the semifinal round, as it
cruised to the 19-point victory over UNC-Asheville. Craig Bradshaw tallied 23
points and nine rebounds to pace the Eagles, and Michael Jenkins finished with
13 points. Antwon Harris had 12 points, Phillip Williams netted 11 points and
Taj McCullough pitched in 10 points. Winthrop earned a 43-27 rebounding
advantage, including a 17-6 edge on the offensive boards. Also, the Eagles
committed six fewer turnovers than their counterparts. Winthrop is racking up
75.0 ppg this season while limiting opponents to 60.3 ppg, proof of the team’s
dominance. Jenkins is the leading scorer with 15.4 ppg, but he gets plenty of
help from Torrell Martin (14.1 ppg), Bradshaw (13.2 ppg) and the rest of the