TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Indiana State Sycamores placed four different players in double figures scoring en route to a 66-55 victory over Winthrop in the home opener in front of 4,916 fans at Hulman Center.
The Sycamores improved to 1-1 on the season, and are now a perfect 3-0 in home openers under third-year head coach Greg Lansing. Winthrop fell to 1-1 on the year. Indiana State is now 8-1 all-time against members of the Big South Conference.
Additionally, the Sycamores improved to 27-1 when holding teams to 63 points or less and are now 22-7 at home under Lansing's watch.
"I was really pleased with the way we played tonight," Lansing said. "We played a very athletic and physical team that I feel beat us in a lot of the hustle plays and in the effort categories, which I don't like. Defensively, we forced them into a lot of good long possessions. We improved tonight over the UCLA game in finishing off some of those possessions and not breaking down towards the end of the shot clock."
The Sycamores were led in scoring by Jake Odum who finished with 15 points on the strength of an 9-for-10 shooting night at the free throw line. Justin Gant added 14 points while Dawon Cummings drilled a pair of 3-pointers en route to scoring 11. Off the bench, RJ Mahurin tallied 10 points to go with four rebounds.
"Justin Gant is a good player and we are counting on him," Lansing commented. "He is very talented. He is doing a lot of good things and he is also doing it in practice. We all have to do better at being tougher on the defensive glass and holding our blocks a little longer and then going and chasing down the loose balls."
Indiana State hit 21-of-37 shots from the field (56.8 percent), including five 3-pointers and were 12-of-19 shooting (63.2 percent) in the first half. Winthrop was limited to just 19-of-59 shooting (32.2 percent), but did hold a 34-28 margin in rebounding. ISU converted 12 Eagle turnovers in 17 points. The bench posted 22 points in the game for Indiana State.
Indiana State would lead by as many as 14 points, but Winthrop cut the advantage down to 60-52 before Odum hit a free throw with 1:15 remaining to stretch the lead back out to nine points. After another Indiana State defensive stop, Odum was fouled with 1:08 remaining and drilled both of his free throws to make it 63-52. Gant would tack on a conventional 3-point play with 45.6 seconds on the clock for a 66-52 lead and capped a 6-0 run.
The Sycamores expanded its 36-30 halftime lead when Jake Odum drove baseline and found Dawon Cummings wide open at the top of the key for his first 3-pointer of the season at the 18:17 mark and following a Winthrop free throw, he hit another one with 17:20 on the clock to stretch the Sycamore cushion out to 42-33 which forced the Eagles to take a timeout.
Winthrop came storming right back with a conventional 3-point play as well another lay-up to inch closer at 42-38. Gant scored his first points of the second half on a driving lay-up over the defense to stretch the advantage back out to 44-38 with 16:01 on the clock. Gant took a nice feed in the paint from Odum on the Sycamores' next possession to send him into double figures scoring for the second consecutive game and it stretched the lead out to 46-38 with 14:57 on the clock.
The Sycamores would not score again for over three minutes, but the defense allowed just two points themselves when RJ Mahurin picked up an offensive rebound as the clock ticked down towards 11 minutes to go and he layed the ball back in to extend the advantage out to 48-40. Mahurin followed up yet another Sycamore defensive stop with a pair of free throws as the lead reached 10 points at 50-40 with 10:45 remaining.
Winthrop would end a spell of scoring just two points over five minutes with a trey as the clock ticked under 10 minutes remaining to cut into the lead at 50-43. Odum went over double figures scoring on a fastbreak jumper after Gant secured a steal at midcourt to make it 53-43. Arop hit driving lay-up at the 8:08 mark to stretch the cushion out to 55-43. The lead reached 57-43 as the Sycamores completed a 7-0 run on an emphatic steal and fastbreak dunk by Khristian Smith with 7:20 on the clock.
A 4-0 short run by Winthrop whittled the lead down to just 10 points, but Odum stepped up with 5:05 remaining in the game and hit a pair of free throws to extend the advantage back out to 59-47.
Indiana State drew first blood in the contest as Justin Gant opened the contest with a bucket, just as he did in the season opener at UCLA, just 11 seconds in to stake the Sycamores to a quick 2-0 lead.
An Arop lay-up answered an early Winthrop basket before the Eagles tied it at four with 17:11 on the clock. The Eagles lead would grow to 10-4 until Gant drilled a 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark which began a 10-0 spurt for the Sycamores which resulted in Indiana State owning a 14-10 lead as the run was capped by an RJ Mahurin triple with 12:29 remaining in the half.
The Eagles scored the game's next four points to knot the game at 14, but Lucas Eitel would remain perfect on the year from long range as he swished a 3-pointer with 11:13 on the clock for a 17-14 advantage.
Indiana State would be held without a field goal for the next four minutes until a driving lay-up by Devonte Brown knotted the game at 19 with 7:10 remaining. The defense allowed just two points to the Eagles during the offensive dry spell.
Brown added a free throw with 5:46 left before the half to take the Sycamores to a 20-19 advantage, but Winthrop scored the next four points of the game to head out to a 23-20 lead. Mahurin ended the Eagle mini-run with a turnaround hook shot with 3:49 remaining to cut the Winthrop cushion down to 23-22.
Dawon Cummings entered the action and hit a high-arching jumper off the glass and added a free throw to complete the conventional 3-point play at the 3:06 mark to tie the game for the sixth time at 25. Odum drilled a pair of charity tosses with 2:23 left before the break as the Sycamores retook the lead at 27-25.
Winthrop owned a 30-29 lead with 1:35 left before the half on a 3-pointer by Christian Farmer, but the Sycamores closed the staza on a 7-0 run as Gant drilled a jumper with 1:11 left and then Odum connected on a pair of free throws at the 54 second mark to make it 33-30 in favor of ISU.
Odum would go on to connect on a jumper with 40 seconds left and Brown drilled a free throw with just five seconds on the clock for the 36-30 halftime lead. Farmer hit a 3-pointer after the buzzer for Winthrop, and it was confirmed by video replay to be late.
The Sycamores were led in scoring during the first half by Odum with eight points while Gant tallied seven. ISU connected on 12-of-19 shots, including a mark of 3-of-5 from 3-point range for a blazing 63.2 percent. Winthrop was limited to a 10-of-28 mark in the first half, shooting just 35.7 percent.
Two players reached double figures scoring for Winthrop as Derrick Henry had 15 and Andre Smith tallied 11.
Indiana State returns to action on Saturday, November 17 when they Sycamores host Truman State inside Hulman Center. Tip-off is set for 1:05 p.m. (ET).