ROCK HILL, SC—Schaquilla Nunn had her eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds while freshman Zoe Vernon finished with a team-high 13 points to lead the Winthrop women to a 55-50 Big South Conference win on Saturday.
After building a 16-point halftime lead, Winthrop had to hold off a second half rally by PC for the win that improves the Eagles to 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference while the Blue Hose drop to 2-9 and 0-2. The game was Winthrop’s first in eight days after taking a Christmas break. The Eagles will be back in action at 2:00 p.m. on Monday when they host Charleston Southern in conference action.
“I was relatively happy with the first half, but they (PC) just spread us out in the second half and we didn’t guard our yard,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “Hence, we over helped and they got some baskets and got some three balls to go down. All of a sudden it was a dog fight. Although I’m not elated, I am a lot happier had we been on the other side of the column.”
Winthrop spotted PC an early 4-0 lead, but then outscored the Blue Hose 20-3 over the next 8:22 behind the outside shooting of Vernon who came off the bench six minutes into the game when Erica Williams was whistled for her second personal foul. A 3-pointer by Vernon followed by a short jumper gave Winthrop a 13-7 lead with 12:21 remaining in the half. She had two more threes and a layup to give her 13 first half points, tying her previous season high.
The Eagles appeared to be on the way to an easy win as they opened the second half with an easy bucket inside by Nunn that put them ahead 33-15, but PC answered with a 8-0 run to get to within 10 at 33-23 on two free throws by Aianna Kelly just over three minutes into the final period. Winthrop responded with a 9-0 run of its own to take its largest lead of the game of 19 points at 42-23
Williams scored on a baseline jumper with 12:16 remaining to put the Eagles ahead 44-26, but PC then outscored Winthrop 15-4 behind the outside shooting of Karlee Taylor and Kaycie Reffner, and the inside scoring of Keyonna Allen to make it a 48-41 game with 4:48 remaining. The Eagles got it back to a double-digit lead when Nunn scored inside off a pass from Dequesha McClanahan and completed the three-point play with a free throw at the 4:15 mark.
A three-pointer by Taylor, who tied Allen for game-high scoring honors with 15 points, got PC to within five points at 53-48 with 2;36 to play. Taylor Calvert made it a three possession game with 20 seconds left by converting two free throws. Kelly scored on a short jumper with four seconds remaining for the final 55-50 score.
“We had a great effort in the game before we left for Christmas break (a 69-61 loss to No. 10 South Carolina). These games coming back from a break are very tricky,” said Cook. “You have to be mindful not to overwork your team when you only have two days to get ready and then they don’t have anything left for the game. So it’s a fine line. That’s why I say it’s tricky. So we will come back tomorrow and we will have one practice to get ready for Charleston Southern and then we will throw it in the air again. I hope we will play with a lot of spirit, a lot of energy and a lot of effort on Monday afternoon because those three things can take you a long way.”
McClanahan, who entered the game leading the Big South in scoring with a 21.1 average, was held to nine points, ending her streak of double figure games at 32 in a row. Nunn’s double-double was her eighth of the season and 23rd of her career.
Winthrop finished the day shooting 37.7 percent from the floor (20-53) and went 7 of 17 from behind the 3-point arc for 41.2 percent while PC shot 34 percent overall from the floor (18-53) and was 7 of 16 from three (43.6 percent). With Nunn leading the way on the boards, Winthrop won the rebound battle 39-33. Both Allen and Sherece Smith had 10 rebounds each for PC.