ROCK HILL, SC—Erica Williams and Schaquilla Nunn had double-double performances and three other players scored in double figures to lead the Winthrop women to a 84-71 home victory over William and Mary on Saturday afternoon as the Eagles extended their winning streak to four straight to open the season.
Williams finished the day with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Nunn scored 11 points and pulled down 13 boards. The victory marks the first time in 41 years that Winthrop has started out a season with four straight wins. The last time it was done came in 1972-73 when the Eagles won five in a row.
Joining Williams and Nunn in double figure scoring were Dequesha McClanahan with 15, and Zoe Vernon and Samiya Wright with 13 each. McClanahan nearly had her second career triple-double as she added nine rebounds and nine assists to her scoring performance.
The scoring of those five Eagles overshadowed William and Mary’s offensive effort that procedure four double figure scorers led by Kaitlyn Mathieu who tied Williams for game-high scoring honors.
Winthrop’s work on the offensive boards proved to be a deciding factor in the contest. The Eagles had 24 offensive rebounds and used those for a commanding 24-2 advantage in second chance points. For the game, Winthrop enjoyed a 30-rebound advantage on the glass, 56-26.
“This was another great team victory when you can put five players in double figures, and your senior point guard and leader nearly misses a triple-double on an off night then that’s pretty good,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook.
“One thing we talked about before the game and the team took it as a challenge was rebounding. Coming into the game we were a plus five rebound margin,” said Cook. “If we are going to be a good ball club, we have got to dominate on the boards, both ends.”
Winthrop led 38-24 at intermission thanks to the play of Vernon, a redshirt freshman, who came off the bench to log 18 minutes. When she first entered the game with 14:36 on the first half clock, the Eagles trailed 14-10. Five minutes later she had scored nine of Winthrop’s next 11 points to turn the tide and put the Eagles ahead 21-14 with 10:01 left in the period.
Kyla Kerstettler, who finished the game with 12 points, answered with a trey to make it a 21-17 lead, but Nunn answered with a follow shot and Wright connected on a 15-footer to put the Eagles ahead by eight at 25-17 with 5:23 remaining in the period. Jazmine Boone made it a six-point game again with a 12- foot baseline jumper at the 4:36 mark to make it 25-19, but that would be as close as William and Mary would get the rest of the game.
Winthrop led by as many as 15 points in the first half following two free throws from Schaquilla Nunn with just over two minutes left to put the Eagles up 36-21. The largest lead of the game was 19 early in the second half when Wright’s 3-pointer from the left corner put Winthrop up 46-27 with 17:33 left.
“Zoe Vernon was a real spark plug for us in the first half and came into the game in the second half and ran the court very well,” said Cook.
Both teams shot the ball extremely well in the second half as Winthrop connected on 55 percent (18-33) and William and Mary was even better at 59 percent (17-29), but it was a poor-shooting first half that put The Tribe in a hole it could not overcome.
Winthrop will now turn its focus on its next game at Charlotte next Tuesday night against a 49er’s program that has dominated the series with 18 wins against just one loss. That game will start at 7 p.m. in Halton Arena.