BOILING SPRINGS – Laquincy Rideau scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half to lift Gardner-Webb to a 69-63 win over Hampton for its third victory in a row.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (5-4) endured a difficult shooting night, making just 38.3 percent from the floor and 51.3 percent from the free throw line – but played smothering defense to keep the Pirates (2-7) off balance for much of the night.
After Gardner-Webb stretched a 29-22 halftime lead to 11 points with 16:20 to play in the game, Pirate senior Lawrence Cooks – a native of nearby Charlotte – heated up to pull his team within four points on a triple with 11:39 left.
Cooks scored 15 of Hampton's first 17 points to open the second half after going scoreless himself for the first 20 minutes.
A quick 5-0 spurt by Gardner-Webb created some breathing room and Hampton would not get the margin closer than five the rest of the way.
Gardner-Webb's defensive effort, spurred by Rideau's four steals, forced 16 turnovers that turned into a 12-0 edge in transition points for the Runnin' Bulldogs. GWU also limited Hampton to 38.2 percent shooting for the game (21-of-55).
Tyrell Nelson had 15 points and eight boards for Gardner-Webb and David Efianayi came off the bench to score 15. Efianayi, GWU's sixth man, leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game – with all nine appearances coming off the bench.
Center Brandon Miller came off the bench to score seven points and pull down seven rebounds, helping the Runnin' Bulldogs own a slight edge in paint scoring (34-26).
Cooks scored all 17 of his points in the second half to lead Hampton. He netted 23 in a 10-point win over William & Mary this past Saturday (Dec. 3).
A.J. Astroth added 15 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and leading scorer Jermaine Marrow netted 11 on 3-of-12 shooting.
Gardner-Webb held a 44-40 edge on the backboards and turned the basketball over just eight times in a slow-paced game. GWU came into the game averaging 79.5 points on the season.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will remain at home, playing Furman on Saturday, December 10, at 3:00 pm. The game will air live on The Big South Network.