Next man up: UJ's Woodford makes most of spot start

UJ MBB vs. PC Woodford.jpg
University of Jamestown redshirt freshman guard Cole Woodford (with ball) looks to spot up and shoot with teammate Brady Birch (50) and Presentation College's Jackson Becker (31) trailing the play at Harold Newman Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

University of Jamestown men's basketball coach Danny Neville says redshirt freshman guard Cole Woodford is a shy guy.

Well, that must not be when he's holding a basketball.

Woodford buried four 3-pointers on six attempts and scored 19 points as the Jimmies derailed Presentation College's season opener 93-73 on Wednesday night at Harold Newman Arena. The Redwood Falls, Minnesota, native was penciled into the starting lineup for the Jimmies for senior transfer Allante' Pickens, who has been placed in COVID-19 quarantine.

Pickens was solid in his Jimmies' debut last week, scoring 16 points in roughly 19 minutes of UJ's 122-75 blowout hosting Oak Hills Christian College.

"With Allante' out, he's obviously a huge role in our offense, so us young guards just needed to step up," said Woodford, who stands 6-foot-1. "I like to shoot the ball ... but I can do whatever to try and get my teammates involved, making sure we're just having good flow on offense."


That was certainly the case after the half. Woodford splashed three of his four 3-pointers through the hoop to help the Jimmies balloon an 11-point halftime lead to 27 points -- 66-39 -- with 14 minutes remaining in the game.

"He's such a good kid, but he's really shy so when he breaks out of his shell like that the guys were loving it," Neville said. "He's just a great player and that's a redshirt freshman stepping up."

The Jimmies packed the stat sheet with numbers, receiving a double-double from Mason Walters and career-highs from junior guard Devan Praska (12 rebounds) and sophomore guard Marc Kjos (11 assists). The 6-9 Walters did his Walters' thing with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

UJ MBB vs. PC Brady Birch.jpg
University of Jamestown senior forward Brady Birch (50) glides through the lane for two points against Presentation College's Ellis Evans (22) in the first half at Harold Newman Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

The Saints, led by junior Issac Essien's 20 points, jumped on the Jimmies 7-0 to start and held the advantage until a Brock Schrom field goal with 5:49 remaining in the half put UJ out front at 31-30. The Jimmies eventually led 46-35 at the half.

Schrom (12 points), Brady Birch (12) and Jack Talley (10) also reached double figures for Jamestown in scoring. UJ shot 51% from the field and scored 29 points off 19 Presentation turnovers.

"I know they were missing a couple guys, but they're a good team," Neville said of the Saints. "We adjusted our ball-screen coverage at halftime so I think that gave them some fits. I just thought our guys played a complete game."


Which included a breakout performance from Woodford, who gained valuable experience during his redshirt year by studying UJ's 2019-20 graduated senior backcourt of guards Isaiah Dobson, Terrell Alfred and Jack Fraizer.

"I knew right away we have a winning culture," Woodford said. "I learned a lot from all those guys. They taught me, 'How do I tie into team basketball,' and just moving the ball and doing whatever to win."

Neville said the addition of strength to an already solid skill set is probably the most glaring improvement to Woodford's game from last winter to now.

"He's always been a pretty good shooter and always has been really skilled," Neville said. "But I think that redshirt year he really developed his body."

Jamestown (2-0) will look to spoil Valley City State University's season opener Friday at Harold Newman. The rivalry game begins at 7 p.m.

"They got a lot of returners, so it's gonna be another good game," Neville said. "I'm excited, man."

UJ MBB vs. PC Talley.jpg
University of Jamestown senior forward Jack Talley drives to the basket while being guarded by Presentation College's Aaron Havis (21) at Harold Newman Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Michael Savaloja / The Sun


University of Jamestown 93, Presentation College 73

PC 35 38 -- 73

UJ 46 47 -- 93

PC -- Isaac Essien 20, Ian Kelly 15, Jackson Becker 13, Qaiyoom Olanlege 11, Ellis Evans 8, Alex Sumption 5, Aaron Havis 1. Totals: 29-57 FG, 9-20 3-pointers (Kelly 3, Olanlege 2, Essien 2, Sumption, Becker), 6-10 FT, 33 Rebounds (Kelly 6, Essien 6), 26 Fouls (Sumption, Evans), 16 Assists (Olanglege 4, Essien 4), 19 Turnovers, 3 Blocks (Evans 2), 1 Steal (Evans).

UJ -- Mason Walters 23, Cole Woodford 19, Brady Birch 12, Brock Schrom 12, Jack Talley 10, Will Cordes 6, Devan Praska 5, Marc Kjos 4, Logan Pratt 2. Totals: 37-72 FG, 6-22 3-pointers (Woodford 4, Talley, Cordes), 13-24 FT, 42 Rebounds (Praska 12, Walters 10), 18 Fouls, 22 Assists (Kjos 11), 7 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (Schrom, Walters), 7 Steals (Praska 3).

Records: Jamestown 2-0. Presentation 0-1.

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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