BOILING SPRINGS, NC—Poor shooting and a large rebounding deficit proved too much to overcome on Saturday for the Winthrop women’s basketball team which dropped its first Big South game, 69-56, on the road to Gardner-Webb.
With the loss, Winthrop falls to 9-4 on the season and 4-1 in the Big South while GWU improves to 9-5 and 4-1.
Playing without sophomore center Schaquilla Nunn because of an injury, Winthrop had problems controlling GWU center Catrina Green, who led four Bulldogs in double figures with 21 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Candace Brown also grabbed 13 rebounds as GWU had a commanding 60-42 advantage on the boards.
“They outrebounded us by 18 and that was a big difference. We gave up 23 offensive rebounds and they outscored us 24-12 on second chance points. That is uncharacteristic of us,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “The bottom line is we have to get better with our box outs. Give Gardner-Webb credit. They were aggressive going to the offensive boards in the second half.”
With leading scorer Dequesha McClanahan connecting on just 4 of 23 field goals for the second straight game and without Nunn to roam the paint, Winthrop had problems scoring, particularly in the second half when the Eagles shot just 21 percent from the floor (8-39). McClanahan finished with 10 points and had five assists and four steals before fouling out in the final three minutes.
For the game, Winthrop shot a season-low 27 percent (21-78) and was just 5 of 23 from behind the three-point arc for 22 percent. GWU finished the game shooting 38 percent (23-60) and went 20 of 28 from the free throw line compared to 9 of 12 for the Eagles.
One of the few bright spots for Winthrop was the scoring lift it got from its bench. Senior guard Tiffany Charles came in to score 11 points while freshman Ronata Rogers scored six, all in the first half when she helped Winthrop take a 31-26 lead at intermission. Winthrop also got a strong effort from Taylor Calvert on the boards as she led the Eagles with 12 rebounds.
“It’s good that our bench outscored their bench 21-13, but our starters need to step up and get it done as well. Gardner-Webb just outplayed us in the second half, but we’ll bounce back,” said Cook.
Winthrop appeared to be in good shape at halftime as it took a 20-18 lead on a baseline jumper by Rogers with 7:33 left in the period. The Eagles stretched the lead to six at 25-19 at the 6:11 mark on a three-point play by Charles following a steal and a layup and free throw. Following four free throws by Jessica Helig of GW, Charles made another steal and fed McClanahan to give the Eagles another six-point advantage with 3:01 to play. Winthrop had its largest lead of the half when CiiCii Buford scored inside to give the Eagles a 31-24 advantage with just over a minute remaining.
Gardner-Webb came out in the second half and went on a 13-2 run in the opening five minutes to take a 39-33 lead after a spin move in the paint by Helig. The Eagles never got closer than three points as the Bulldogs led by 12 at 50-48 with 10:09 left in the game.
Winthrop will return home for a Tuesday night non-conference game against North Carolina Central. The tip-off is set for 7 p.m.