ROCK HILL, SC—High Point opened the second half on a 14-2 run to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit and went on to capture a 74-71 win over Winthrop in a battle for first place in the Big South Conference.
The Panther victory also put a damper on a special night for Winthrop senior guard Dequesha McClanahan who broke the all-time Big South Conference scoring record. McClanahan finished the game with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. She now has 2,167 career points to surpass the old mark of 2,154 that had been held by former Liberty standout Elena Kisseleva.
The loss was Winthrop’s second straight and drops its season record to 20-8 and 14-5 in the conference. High Point is now 19-9 and takes over first place with a 15-4 mark.
Winthrop placed three other players in double figures as freshman Erica Williams scored 14 while Samiya Wright had 11 and Schaquilla Nunn added 10. High Point also had four players reach double figures with freshman Kayla Keys leading the way with 18 while Stacia Robertson scored 17, Lindsey Puckett had 11 and Latrice Phelps chipped in with 10.
In the opening four minutes and seven seconds of the second half, High Point connected on 5 of 7 field goals, including two from behind the arc and added two free throws to overcome a 38-27 halftime deficit. Teddy Vincent’s three ball, gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 41-40.
After going just 2 of 15 from long distance in the first half, the Panthers connected on seven of 13 from behind the arc in the second period and that proved to be the difference in the game as they outscored the Eagles by 21 points on three point baskets.
Puckett did the most damage from long distance as she nailed three straight 3-pointers sandwiched around a jumper by Patterson to give High Points a five-point lead at 54-49 with 8:47 left in the game.
Winthrop then got out of its zone and forced three missed shots and two turnovers while outscoring High Point 10-0 to reclaim the lead at 59-54 after Tiffany Charles connected on a 15-foot jumper and made two free throws with just over six minutes left.
Keys broke the Panther scoring drought by connecting on a three-pointer to make it a two-point game. Winthrop still led by three points at 69-66 with two minutes left, before Keys drove the lane for a layup and Robertson’s short jumper in the lane gave the Panthers a the lead for good at 70-69 with 1:35 remaining.
With her team trailing 72-69, McClanahan cut the deficit to one after a length of the court drive to make it 72-71 with 35 seconds left. High Point’s Ashante Richard missed a free throw with 17 ticks remaining to give Winthrop a chance to take the lead, but McClanahan was called for a travel and High Point got a run out layup by Phelps to close out the victory.
Winthrop enjoyed its double digit halftime lead after it shot 54 percent in the first half and jumped out to an early 19-6 lead in the opening 6:57. The Eagles led by 14 at 34-20 when McClanahan connected on her record-breaking baseline jumper. Her layup at the 2:05 mark gave the Eagles their largest lead of the game at 36-21.
Winthrop returns home on Saturday to host Campbell on Senior Day. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. High Point heads to Radford on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.