FARMVILLE, VA—The Winthrop women’s basketball team captured its 20th win of the year as the Eagles defeated the outmanned Longwood Lancers 63-35 Thursday night in Big South Conference action in Willet Hall.
The Eagles spotted the Lancers an early 3-0 lead, but then jumped out to a 33-16 halftime lead and never looked back as they extended their season-best winning streak to seven games and kept their hold on first place in the Big South. With the win, Winthrop equaled last year’s school-record number of conference wins as it improved to 14-3 in league play. Longwood falls to 7-20 and 4-14 with the loss.
For the second straight game, it was Winthrop’s defensive effort that set the tone. The 35 points allowed by Longwood are the fewest scored by an opponent since Jan. 3, 2009 when Presbyterian College was held to 35 and was two points shy of tying the best defensive scoring mark since Winthrop began playing at the NCAA Div. I level in 1986.
Junior guard Samiya Wright scored seven of Winthrop’s first 11 points to get the Eagles off to a good start. Winthrop led 11-3 at the first media timeout and connected on four of its first five shots. Winthrop took a 20-8 lead on a layup by Ronata Rogers with over six minutes left in the first half and extended the lead to 16 when Pamela Decheva drilled a 3-pointer to put the Eagles up 28-12 with 1:51 on the clock.
Decheva gave Winthrop its first 30 point lead midway through the second half with another three ball to give the Eagles a 55-25 lead. Winthrop took its largest lead of 32 when Tiffany Charles scored on a layup to make it 61-29 with 2:15 left in the game.
For the night, Winthrop shot 45 percent overall from the floor (26-58) and connected on 50 percent from behind the 3-point arc (9 of 18). The Winthrop defense held Longwood to 24 percent shooting (13-55) overall and just eight percent from behind the arc (2 of 26).
After a slow start, Dequesha McClanahan scored the final five points of the first half and finished with a game-high 13 points to lead a balanced Winthrop offensive attack. Nine different players scored for the Eagles. Wright finished with 12 while Erica Williams added 10. Charles and Decheva came off the bench to scored nine points each.
McClanahan is now 26 points away from breaking the Big South women’s scoring record now held by former Liberty standout Elena Kisseleva with 2,154. McClanahan’s career total now stands at 2,129.
Longwood, which was playing without leading scorer Daiesha Brown due to an injury, did not have a player reach double figures as three players tied for the team-high with six points. The lone bright spot for the Lancers was on the boards where they outrebounded the Eagles 39-27. Schaquilla Nunn had a game-high 11 rebounds for Winthrop.
Winthrop’s defense forced 21 Longwood miscues and outscored the Lancers 22-0 on points off turnovers. The Eagles also dominated the paint with a 20-4 advantage and had a 10-2 advantage in fast break points.
“Their best player (Daiesha Brown) was out, but I was still pleased with our effort,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “But anytime you hold a team to 24 percent shooting and only 2 of 26 from behind the arc that’s awfully nice. We score 22 points off turnovers and get 22 points from our bench, so it was a good team effort, but one area that we are going to have to get better at quick, fast and in hurry is rebounding because Liberty makes a living on the boards.”
Winthrop will travel to Lynchburg, VA for a Saturday clash with Liberty at 7 p.m. The Flames defeated Winthrop 77-70 in overtime back on Jan. 16.