ROCK HILL, SC—Dequesha McClanahan scored 19 points and Samiya Wright added 14 to lead Winthrop to its fourth straight Big South Conference win as the Eagles defeated Gardner-Webb 57-52 Thursday night in the Winthrop Coliseum before the second largest home women’s crowd in school history of 1,009.
The win avenged an earlier loss to GWU back on Jan. 4 and improves the first place Eagles to 11-3 in conference play and 17-6 overall. Gardner-Webb is now 8-5 in conference and 13-9 overall. The Eagles entered the game ranked No. 24 in the mid-major Top 25 poll.
McClanahan, who moved to within 70 points of breaking the Big South career scoring record, connected on 8 of 16 field goals, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. It was her length of the court drive and basket just before the halftime buzzer that seemed to shift the momentum in favor of Winthrop who led 26-25 at intermission. Winthrop outscored GWU 7-0 in the final two minutes of the opening period.
“Dequesha looked at me with four seconds left and I looked her dead in the eye and told her to dribble as hard as you can and take it to the hole, and that is what she did,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “Special players are put in special places to special things and Dequesha is one of those special people,” he said. “I thought Dequesha played one of her better games of late.”
Also scoring in double figures for Winthrop was freshman Erica Williams who collected her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Gardner-Webb, which led by as many as eight points in the first half at 19-11 after nearly 13 minutes of action, had two players record double-doubles. Catrina Green finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds while Olivia Parker scored 10 points and grabbed 10 boards.
In the early going of the second half, Green put the Runnin’ Bulldogs ahead 31-30 on a layup with 17:33, but Winthrop responded with a 12-2 run over the next seven minutes to take a 42-33 lead on a three-pointer by Wright. GWU trimmed its deficit to five points with seven minutes left in the game when Mayhana Dunovant’s three ball made it a 46-41 game, but the Eagles responded one more time with a 7-0 run to take their largest lead of the night at 12 points when Erica Williams followed her own miss with a rebound basket to put Winthrop up 53-41 with just under five minutes left in the game.
Gardner-Webb then outscored the Eagles 8-0 to get to with four points at 53-49 with 1:52 remaining to play, but Wright and McClanahan sealed the win by hitting two free throws each in the final minute.
Winthrop will host UNC Asheville on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a game that will be carried on ESPN3. Gardner-Webb’s will travel to Radford for a 2 p.m. contest.