Cooks’ effort leads Winthrop past Gardner-Webb 90-71

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (AP) Senior Xavier Cooks poured in a career-high 36 points and added season highs of 16 rebounds and six blocked shots to power Winthrop to a 90-71 victory over Gardner-Webb on Thursday night.

Winthrop’s fourth straight win lifted it into a first-place tie in the Big South Conference with UNC Asheville, which lost in overtime to Liberty on Thursday.

Cooks buried 14 of his 23 shots from the floor, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and added three assists and three steals for the Eagles (17-9, 11-4). Josh Ferguson hit 9 of 11 free throws and scored 19, Anders Broman had 15 points and four assists and junior Adam Pickett notched the first double-double of his career with 13 points and 10 boards.

Winthrop outscored the Bulldogs (12-16, 7-8) by 13 at the free-throw line and had 19 more attempts. The Eagles won the rebound battle 46-31 and held Gardner-Webb to 23 percent shooting (5 of 22) from 3-point range.

Liam O’Reilly paced the Bulldogs with 24 points, while David Efianayi scored 20 with five assists.