ROCK HILL, SC—Senior guard Dequesha McClanahan became the all-time leading scorer in Winthrop women’s basketball history and the Eagles broke open a tight game to begin the second half to defeat College of Charleston 67-49 in the season opener Sunday afternoon in the Winthrop Coliseum.
McClanahan (Oak Ridge, TN) finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as she broke the old record of 1,699 points that had been held by Kim Segars for 25 years. She now has 1,708 and is 143 points away from becoming Winthrop’s career leading scorer for both men and women.
Her record-breaking basket came with 15:15 left in the game when she scored on a driving layup and added a free throw to put her team up 38-31 in the midst of an 18-5 run. When she ended the run with a 15-foot jumper with 12:20 remaining the Eagles held a commanding 48-33 lead. College of Charleston got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 18 when Tiffany Charles (Miami, FL) scored underneath to put Winthrop up 64-46.
“This was a tremendous victory for our program. We defeated a very, very good College of Charleston team,” said second-year head coach Kevin Cook. “I couldn’t be more proud of our players and it is a great start to the season,” he said in his post-game press conference. The victory was the second in a row over College of Charleston, but the Cougars still own a commanding 25-3 lead in the all-time series. Winthrop has won three of the last five meetings after dropping the first 23 in the series which dates back to 1976.
“This young lady to my right (McClanahan) is a special player and a special person. She has really matured beyond belief and it has been special to watch. I could get very emotional talking about that aspect. She becomes the all-time leading scorer in the history of the program today, makes every good decisions on the court, makes everyone on our team a better player, and all she cares about is winning. She doesn’t care about any individual accolades.”
McClanahan, when asked if she knew that she had scored the record-breaking basket, said she knew it was coming up, but didn’t know it was that basket. The crowd of 564 gave her a standing ovation as the milestone was announced during a media timeout.
“It was nice to hear the crowd. I had some fans standing behind me, but I was still focused on winning the game,” she said.
While it was a record-breaking day for McClanahan, Winthrop’s 6-3 sophomore center Schaquilla Nunn (Fayetteville, GA) also collected a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds and freshman Erica Williams (Rex, GA) nearly pulled off a double-double in her collegiate debut with a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Taylor Calvert (Shertz, TX) also reached double figures in rebounds with 11.
Despite the rebounding effort of Nunn, McClanahan, Calvert and Williams, the Eagles lost the battle of the boards 62-58, but made up ground in the second half after being outrebounded 36-22 in the first period.
Cook pointed to Winthrop’s defensive effort as a key for the victory. Charleston was held to 22.4 percent field goal shooting (19-85) and went 3 of 17 from behind the arc. Winthrop, on the other hand finished the game at 37 percent (25-67) and won the inside battle by outscoring the Cougars 36-20 in the paint with most of the points coming from Williams and Nunn.
“I want to tip my cap to the College of Charleston. They kept us off balance the first half ,” said Cook. Winthrop led 29-28 at halftime despite closing the half by connecting on just three of its final 15 shots and going 1 for 6 from the foul line. The Eagles were also dominated on the backboards 36-22 which led to 12 second chance points by Charleston.
The Eagles trailed just once in the opening period at 11-9, but went on a 9-1 run to take its largest lead of the half at 18-12 with 10:10 left when freshman Zoe Vernon popped a 3-pointer from the right wing just after entering the game. But then Winthrop had trouble finding the basket. Charleston got it to two points at 25-23 on a jumper by Jenice Winter with 5:42 on the clock, but Williams kept Winthrop ahead by connecting on a 10-foot turnaround baseline jumper at the 5:13 mark to give the Eagles a 27-23 advantage. McClanahan scored seven points in the first half before going to the bench in the final seconds when she was called for her second foul on an offensive charge.
College of Charleston was led in scoring by Jasmine Carter who came off the bench to score 11 points while Afreyea Tolbert led the Cougars on the glass with 11 rebounds.
Winthrop’s next game will come on Friday night, Nov. 15, when it travels to Davidson for a 7 p.m. game. Davidson pulled off a 20-point road win over Clemson on Friday. “We’re only promised 29 tests and we might as well test ourselves against the best competition, and I’m sure the team feels the same way,” said Cook.