ROCK HILL, SC—Winthrop’s women will face three key Big South Conference games this week beginning Monday night at Coastal Carolina as the Eagles will try to move into a first place tie with Liberty in the conference standings.
Coach Kevin Cook’s Eagles are looking for their third straight win and sixth victory in their last seven games when they meet Coastal at 7:00 p.m. in the HTC Center. Following that game, Winthrop will return home for games on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. against Liberty and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with Longwood.
All three games will be audio streamed on the Winthrop Sports Network (www.winthropeagles.com) and video streamed on the Big South Network. The Winthrop ticket window will open one hour before game time on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles, who were picked second in the preseason Big South Poll behind perennial power Liberty, are off to their best start in conference history with a 5-1 record, and are 11-4 overall, the best start in 30 years. Liberty is 6-1 in the conference and does not play again until they travel to the Winthrop Coliseum this week.
But, Cook and his team are not thinking about Liberty right now. They are zoned in on Coastal Carolina which is off to its best Big South start in school history with a 4-2 record, and will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the Eagles.
“Each and every game will hold the same significance no matter who the opponent is,” says Cook.
Winthrop and Coastal will be facing each other for the 78th time on Monday night. Winthrop owns a 40-37 lead in the series and has won the last two meetings and six of the last 10. The Chanticleers own a 20-16 advantage in Conway, but are 0-1 against the Eagles in the HTC Center which opened last year. Winthrop defeated CCU 76-52 last Jan. 24 in the only meeting of the season.
Coastal will test the Winthrop defense as the Chanticleers lead the conference in scoring with a 73.9 average, and features the top individual scorer in AJ Jordan who is averaging 17.6 points to rank second in the tight conference scoring race that has Longwood’s Daeisha Brown leading at 17.8, followed by Jordan, and then Dequesha McClanahan at 17.1.
Winthrop has been without the services of sophomore center Schaquilla Nunn for the last three games due to a knee issue. Nunn is nationally ranked in blocked shots (3.0) and rebounding (11.3). “We are continuing to monitor Schaquilla’s knee and her playing status will be a game-time decision,” said Cook.
Cook also had some surprising news concerning sophomore guard Aliyah Kilpatrick, a Big South All-Freshman Team selection last year, who has not played this season after tearing an Achilles tendon last July in a pick-up game. “Aliyah has been practicing and we expect her to suit up for the Liberty game,” said Cook. “Her availability will be day-to-day.”
Liberty has been on a roll of late, winning four straight and nine of its last 10, to improve its overall record to 10-6. The Flames got off to a slow start in November as they dropped their first four non-conference games. Liberty is led by 6-4 sophomore center Ashley Rininger who is averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Winthrop and Liberty will meet for the 53rd time. The Flames have dominated the series all-time series, 44-8. Winthrop has won just once in the last 11 meetings with that victory coming at home on Feb. 18, 2012.
When Longwood comes to town next Saturday, Winthrop will be looking to even the all-time series at 6-6, and will also be looking to give some pay back after the Lancers won two of three games last year and knocked the Eagles out of the Big South Conference tournament.
Longwood will face Radford on the road Thursday night before coming to Rock Hill on Saturday. The Lancers are 6-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference after pulling out a 59-57 home victory over Gardner-Webb last Saturday. Brown has led Longwood in scoring in nine of its 16 games this season.