The inside game
BOILING SPRINGS — Seeking their fifth win in seven games, Gardner-Webb head men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann knew that Saturday night against The Citadel, the battle was going to be inside.
Going against All-Southern Conference forward Mike Groselle, the Runnin' Bulldogs were going to have to battle for rebounds, second-chance points and, above all, stopping Groselle.
Two out of three isn't bad.
Gardner-Webb used a career-high 27 points from sophomore Donta Harper and edged The Citadel 44-24 in the paint and used a 48-point second half to cruise past the Bulldogs, 71-58 late Saturday night at Paul Porter Arena.
Groselle, who averaged over 20 points per game for The Citadel (3-5) had just 14 points as he was faced with continuous double-teams from the GWU defense.
"I thought we limited Groselle's touches and we doubled down on him and that was important," Holtmann said.
The slightly smaller Harper was helped with Groselle being in foul trouble in the second half, where Harper scored 18 of his 27 points and had four of his seven rebounds.
"The challenge was just playing my game," Harper said. "I just turned and faced when I had the ball and, if I was not open for a shot, there would be someone there on the outside."
The Runnin' Bulldogs (7-5) had a sluggish first half, shooting just 33 percent from the field and found themselves down for all but three minutes of the half.
But, in the second, Harper came alive and, through the 17 minute mark of the second half, was shooting 7-for-10 from the field while the rest of the team was just 7-of-24.
It wasn't until Max Landis connected on one of his three 3-point shots that Gardner-Webb tied the game for the first time since three minutes into the game. Off a steal, Harper connected on a 10-foot jumper that put the Runnin' Bulldogs in front for the first time since early in the game.
Later, it was a Harper traditional 3-point play that helped spark a 10-0 run and gave Gardner-Webb a 42-34 lead.
"Donta is very good in the soft spots of the zone and we tried to move him around," Holtmann said.
During the run, The Citadel was 0-for-5 from the field and committed four turnovers. For the game, Gardner-Webb forced 20 turnovers.
Midway through the second half, Gardner-Webb found themselves shooting 75 percent from the field, compared to just 26 percent for The Citadel.
Just as The Citadel was attempting to close the gap, Gardner-Webb mounted a 12-5 run — including back-to-back lay-ups from Jarvis Davis and Corey Hensley — to hold a 57-44 lead with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game.
"We made a couple of adjustments at half," Holtmann said. "We were playing a little too helter-skelter offensively in the first half."
In that first half, Gardner-Webb shot just 33 percent from the field, including 1-for-12 from 3-point range. They had a pair of scoring droughts that lasted three minutes or longer.
While Gardner-Webb was able to contain Groselle and earn second-chance points, Saturday was the third outing of the season where the Runnin' Bulldogs were outrebounded. The Citadel had 43 rebounds to GWU's 31.
"I told the guys that I thought they (The Citadel) were tougher than us in some stretches," Holtmann said.
The Citadel had 16 offensive rebounds and 27 on the defensive side.
"They had the opportunity for more offensive rebounds off misses," Holtmann said. "That being said, we need to be better in the rebounding area."
The Runnin' Bulldogs will have a quick turnaround after a week-long break leading to Saturday's win. They will take to the road and face East Carolina at 7 p.m. Tuesday before returning home next Saturday for a 4:30 p.m. tip-off with Spaulding.
Men's college basketball
at Paul Porter Arena
Boiling Springs, NC
Gardner-Webb 71, The Citadel 58
THE CITADEL (3-5) — Dylen Setzekorn 4-8 6-6 16, Mike Groselle 5-14 4-4 14, Ashton Moore 3-7 0-0 7, Quinton Marshall 3-6 1-3 7, Matt Van Scyoc 2-7 0-0 5, Lawrence Miller 1-4 2-4 4, Stephen Elmore 1-4 1-4 3, Marshall Harris III 0-4 2-2 2, Janeil Jenkins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-55 16-23 58.
GARDNER-WEBB (7-5) — Donta Harper 12-17 3-5 27, Max Landis 4-10 5-6 16, Corey Hensley 5-10 1-2 11, Kevin Hartley 3-7 0-0 7, Jarvis Davis 2-2 0-0 4, Jerome Hill 2-3 0-0 4, Tyler Strange 1-7 0-0 2, Onzie Branch 0-3 0-0 0, Isaiah Ivey 0-2 0-0 0, Mike Byron 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 29-61 9-17 71.
Halftime — The Citadel 26, GWU 23. 3-point goals — The Citadel 4-15 (Setzekorn 2-4, Moore 1-2, Van Scyoc 1-5, Miller 0-1, Marshall 0-1); GWU 4-17 (Landis 3-9, Hartley 1-5, Strange 0-2, Ivey 0-1). Rebounds — The Citadel 43 (Groselle 15); GWU 31 (Harper 7). Assists — The Citadel 10 (Harris 6); GWU 15 (Strange 8). Turnovers — The Citadel 20; GWU 11. Blocks — The Citadel 4; GWU 5. Steals — The Citadel 4; GWU 10. Personal fouls — The Citadel 17; GWU 20. Fouled out — The Citadel, Groselle; GWU, Hill. Technical fouls — The Citadel 1; GWU 2. A: 1,640.