ROCK HILL, SC—Dequesha McClanahan and Erica Williams scored 19 points each to lead Winthrop to its season-best fifth straight win with a 62-55 victory over UNC Asheville on Saturday at the Winthrop Coliseum
The win improves Winthrop to 12-3 in the Big South Conference and 18-6 overall as it maintains its hold on first place in the league. UNC Asheville falls to 6-8 in the conference and 9-14 overall.
The 19 points by McClanahan moves her to within 51 points of breaking the Big South Conference all-time scoring record of 2,154 points now held by former Liberty standout Elena Kisseleva. McClanahan now has 2,104 career points.
Schaquilla Nunn also scored in double figures with 10 points and recorded her 13th double-double of the season by pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. Teammate Taylor Calvert was also big on the glass with 10 rebounds as the Eagles dominated the boards 48-35. Asheville was led in scoring by Paige Love with 16 while Leah Womack finished with 10.
Winthrop took a 40-29 lead at halftime and still maintained an 11-point lead at 44-33 when Williams connected on a short jumper with 17:16 left in the period. But the Eagles had to fight off a comeback by Asheville which went on a 7-0 run in a four-minute period to get to within four points at 44-40 on a jumper by Tianna Knuckles, but Williams answered for Winthrop to make it a six-point game
With McClanahan on the bench with four fouls the Bulldogs took advantage and cut the deficit to just two points at 50-48 when Womack scored inside over Nunn with 7:37 remaining. Calvert responded with her only bucket of the game on a layup just 21 seconds later to stem the tide. Asheville got to within three on two occasions, but McClanahan returned to the game with just over six minutes left and came up with a pull-up jumper to give the Eagles a 56-51 lead with 3:41 on the clock. The Bulldogs got no closer in the final minutes.
By the way the game started, it looked as if the Eagles were going to win this one easily. Winthrop connected on seven of their first 12 shots to build an early 14-3 lead after just three minutes and 10 seconds. Williams scored six of those points while McClanahan added four.
After the Bulldogs had trimmed the deficit to five on the first of four three-pointers by Love, Asheville trailed 18-13 with just over 13 minutes left in the first half. Winthrop responded with a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to take its largest lead of the game at 15 points when McClanahan converted two free throws to make the score 32-17. However, Winthrop’s senior guard was whistled for her second foul just before she shot the free throws and had to come out of the game.
Without McClanahan on the floor, the Bulldogs outscored Winthrop 9-0 and trailed by six with 4:22 left in the half after Love drilled another three to make it a 32-26 game. The Eagles closed out the half on an 8-3 run to lead 40-29 at intermission.
Winthrop held Asheville to 33 percent field goal shooting (20-61) while the Eagles shot 45 percent (26-58). Both teams went 9 of 16 from the free throw line.
Winthrop will now off a week before hosting Radford on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m.