Gardner-Webb's Donta Harper notched a game-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half, as the Runnin' Bulldogs captured the 71-58 victory over The Citadel at Paul Porter Arena on Saturday evening. Redshirt freshman Dylen Setzekorn led the charge for the Cadets with 16 points off the bench, while teammate Mike Groselle notched his 25th career double-double courtesy 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The Citadel (3-5) struggled to find any offensive rhythm, hitting just 19-of-55 (34.5%) from the floor and 4-of-15 (26.7%) from 3-point range. A bulk of the Dogs offense came from the free throw line as they finished 16-of-23 (69.6%) due in large part to GWU committing 20 personal fouls.
Setzekorn recorded his season-high in points after hitting 4-of-8 from the field, knocking down two second half 3-pointers, and converting all six attempts from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Groselle was 5-of-14 from the floor and snagged nine of his game-high 14 rebounds on the offensive glass. Teammate Ashton Moore also had a solid all-around performance, scoring seven points to go along with a career-best six caroms.
Harper's performance came after finishing 12-of-17 from the floor, limiting himself to a pair of missed field goal attempts in the second half. He was joined in scoring by teammates Max Landis (16 points) and Corey Hensley (11 points), who combined to hit 9-of-20 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line. Tyler Strange handed out eight assists for Gardner-Webb, who moves to 7-5 overall on the season.
GWU finished 29-of-61 (47.5%) after a solid shooting performance in the second half that saw the Runnin' Bulldogs hit 19-of-31 (61.3%) from the floor and knock down three 3-pointers. Gardner-Webb held a 44-24 edge in points in the paint despite being outrebounded 43-31 by The Citadel.
The Citadel maintained its three-point edge in the first 3:02 of the second half, following points by Groselle, Matt Van Scyoc and Quinton Marshall, before a Max Landis 3-pointer at the 16:28 mark deadlocked the game at 32-32.
Gardner-Webb accounted for 11 of the next 13 points, pairing five points by Harper with a series of 3-pointers by Kevin Hartley and Landis, to open up a 45-34 lead at the 12:47 mark.
Marshall and Setzekorn combined for three straight free throws and following a jumper in the lane by Lawrence Miller, The Citadel trimmed the lead to 45-39 in just over one minute of play.
The two teams traded baskets before a dunk by Harper energized the Gardner-Webb faithful and eventually pushed the margin back to double digits, 51-41.
GWU extended the lead to 57-44 on a Hensley layup before a jumper from just outside the lane by Groselle and a 3-pointer by Setzekorn drew the Bulldogs to within 57-49.
The Citadel continued to apply pressure on the defensive end and following free throws by Harris III the lead was sliced to 57-51.
After Setzekorn's second 3-pointer of the half, this time at the 5:06 mark, Gardner-Webb scored nine unanswered to pull in front 68-54. The Runnin' Bulldogs split the final six points of the contest to complete the 71-58 victory.
Behind a Moore jumper from 18-feet away with 24 seconds left in the first half, The Citadel took a 26-23 lead into the intermission. Moore capped off the opening frame with five points, hitting 2-of-5 from the field, while Groselle scored eight points to lead Bulldog scorers.
The Citadel hit just 8-of-27 (29.6%) from the field in the first half and among those were two 3-pointers by the tandem of Moore and Van Scyoc. Among the keys for the Cadets success was their free throw shooting (8-9) and 28-13 advantage on the glass against Gardner-Webb.
Gardner-Webb's offense was impacted by a 10-for-30 (33.3%) performance from the field in the first half. The Runnin' Bulldogs struggled to find their range from beyond the perimeter, hitting just 1-12 (8.3%), due in large part to The Citadel's zone defense. GWU also committed 13 turnovers, limiting their offensive possessions.
The Citadel started out strong with a Van Scyoc 3-pointer to open the game, but following four points by Harper GWU assumed an 8-7 lead at the 15:08 mark.
Seven straight Citadel points, including a Moore 3-pointer, in just under two minutes provided a six-point edge, 14-8.
Free throw shooting kept the Bulldogs in front as The Citadel hit six from the line after going just over nine minutes without a bucket.
Knotted at 20-20, The Citadel scored six of the final nine points in the half, to assume the three-point advantage at the intermission.