WINTHROP — The Winthrop boys basketball team caught Monmouth off-balance with its trademark defensive intensity on Friday night.

And by the time the Mustangs adapted, it was too late.

Ryan Baird scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Cam Hachey added 11 and the Ramblers improved to 8-0 with a 59-46 win over Mountain Valley Conference rival Monmouth. The Mustangs fell to 5-2.

“We want to play hard for 32 minutes, and that’s what Monmouth does,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “I tip my cap off, they are probably the hardest-working program in the conference. Those kids work their tails off, and that’s a reflection of Wade (Morrill) as a coach.

“We had to make sure we matched their intensity and their effort, and make sure our skill set won over their skill set. I believe in our kids’ skill set.”

Monmouth got 23 points from Gabe Martin, but Morrill said it took a while for his players to get used to the aggressive defense they knew was coming.

“It’s just hard to replicate their intensity in practice,” he said. “In real time, if you can see it, you get accustomed to the speed with which they close, the speed with which they show for the help. … The first half was the story of the game, they outscored us by 18 in the first half. Second half we started to get going a little bit, but a little bit too late.”

Winthrop led 16-8 after the first quarter, but opened the second quarter on a 14-0 run to take command of the game for good. Monmouth didn’t get within single digits until a Manny Calder drive made it 55-46 in the last minute of play.

The Mustangs outscored Winthrop 31-26 in the second half, but Morrill said more is needed for Monmouth to beat Winthrop, Boothbay and the rest of the top teams in Class C South.

“We’re 13 points worse than our best competition, so we’ve got to get better,” he said. “We want to come over here and play our best game. Not our best 16 minutes, but our best game.”

Brock Bates added eight points for Monmouth. Gavin Perkins scored eight points for Winthrop, while Jevin Smith had four steals and Smith and Noah Grube had five rebounds apiece.

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