RADFORD, VA—Winthrop went on a 17-2 run to open the second half and coasted to a 68-56 Big South Conference win over Radford on Thursday night at the Dedmon Center.
The win kept Winthrop in a tie for first place in the Big South as the Eagles improve to 5-1 in league play and 11-4 overall. Radford remains winless in the conference as the Lady Highlanders fall to 0-7 and are now 2-14 overall. Winthrop has now won four straight over Radford and eight of its last 11 meetings, but RU still owns a commanding 53-14 lead in the all-time series.
Freshman Erica Williams overcame an illness during the game to score a game-high 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the floor while Pamela Decheva scored a career-high 14 and senior point guard Dequesha McClanahan recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five assists. Tiffany Charles again gave Winthrop a spark both offensively and defensively when she came off the bench to score seven points and make two steals.
“If there was a Sixth Woman Award in the conference, she (Charles) would certainly be it. And give credit to Pamela (Decheva). I think she has shaken the rust off and is playing with confidence. She was five of eight and hit some big three balls, and preseason Player of the Year Dequesha McClanahan hit a huge triple when we needed it,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook.
Winthrop looked as if it was going to take charge of this game early as it jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in just over two minutes as Decheva scored the first five, but Radford then went on a 10-0 run to lead 10-6 after Ayana Avery’s drive to the basket with 14:16 left in the first half. Avery scored all eight of her points in the game during that three-minute stretch.
The Eagles reclaimed the lead at 16-14 on a baseline jumper by Williams and Winthrop never trailed again, although Radford did tie the game four more times before the two teams went to intermission knotted at 28-28.
The opening four minutes and 50 seconds of the second half was all Winthrop as five different players scored during the 17-2 blitz that put the Eagles ahead 45-30 with 15:10 left to play. But over the next five minutes and 34 seconds, Winthrop did not make a field goal and allowed Radford to cut the 15 point lead down to just seven at 47-40 when Kiera McIvor hit a short jumper at the 15:10 mark. McClanahan ended the field goal drought when she nailed a three-pointer from the deep right corner with 9:36 left in the game to put her team back up by double digits at 50-40.
Radford pulled to within five points at 57-52 thanks to the inside play of Rachael Ross who scored eight of her team-high 12 points over a three-minute period. Decheva then nailed her fourth trey to give the Eagles some breathing room and they coasted in the final four minutes.
“They (Radford) played hard and they are well-coached team, but I thought our players had a very gutsy effort tonight. It was literally a gutsy effort by Erica Williams who played through a sickness. I felt she was pretty special out there. It was a great team win,” said Cook.
“We shot the ball at 48 percent. That’s dandy. And, we had a plus-seven rebound margin. Thank the good Lord that this six games in 12 day stretch is over.”
Winthrop will be in action again next Monday when it travels to Conway, SC to face Coastal Carolina at 7:00 p.m.