CONWAY, SC—Dequesha McClanahan scored a game-high 24 points and Erica Williams recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead Winthrop to a 77-58 quarterfinal win over Coastal Carolina in the 2014 Big South Conference Championship on Thursday night at the HTC Center.
The victory sets a Winthrop school record for wins as it improves to 22-8 while Coastal ends its season at 15-16. Winthrop will advance to the semifinal round on Saturday when the Eagles will face No. 2 seed Liberty at 8 p.m. Top-seeded High Point will face No. 4 seed Campbell as the top four seeds advanced for the first time since 2008.
Winthrop shot 50 percent for the game (30-60) and limited the Chanticleers to 31.7 percent (20-63) as the Eagles defeated Coastal for the third time this season.
“We’re happy with the win. I don’t have a whole lot to say tonight, but everybody is here for the same reason. The top four seeds advanced; let’s play ball,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook.
“I’m very proud of this team and we’ll show up for the next game. I like our mindset right now as a team. We came here to play as hard as we can and we’re looking forward to the next game.”
Defense and Winthrop’s ability to get the ball inside were keys in the win. The defense forced 19 Coastal turnovers and made a season-high15 steals to gain a 19-11 points off turnovers, but it was in the paint where Winthrop won the game. The Eagles had a 46-20 advantage inside the lane as Williams and Nunn scored 12 of their combined 14 field goals in the paint.
The double-double by Williams marked the first time a Winthrop player accomplished that feat in a tournament game since 2010.
Tiffany Charles came up big defensively for Winthrop, setting a new Big South tournament record with nine steals, including seven in the first half when the Eagles closed out the half on a 12-2 run to take a 37-25 lead at intermission
Winthrop led 37-27 at halftime as the Eagles closed out the half with a 12-2 run to close out the first half. Williams accounted for six of those points. The closest that Coastal could get in the second half was five on two occasions. Katelyn Connor converted one of two free throws to cut the lead to five at 41-36 with 16:20 remaining, but Williams answered with a layup and the Chanticleers would get no closer.
Winthrop stretched the margin to 13 when Samiya Wright scored on a layup following one of Charles’ steals. The lead went to 14 on a layup by Williams with 5:56 left. McClanahan’s jumper at the 3:20 mark grew the lead to 16. Winthrop’s largest lead of 19 came with just over a minute left in the game.
The Eagles looked as if they could break the game open just nine minutes into the game when they went on a 7-0 run in a 40 second span to take a 17-10 lead with 10:34 left in the period. Tiffany Charles played a role in that run with two of her xx steals. Coastal came right back to score seven unanswered points to knot the count at 17-17 on a runner in the lane by
Angelica Henry at the 8:12 mark.
The two teams remained tied at 25 all with 4:23 left in the half when Winthrop connected on its last five field goals and added a couple of free throws to build a 12-point lead at 37-27. Henry scored on a 10-footer just before the half ended.
In addition to McClanahan’s 24 points and the 20 by Williams, Winthrop also got double figure performances from Wright with 13 and Nunn, 11. Coastal placed three players in double digits as Jordan led the Chanticleers with 18 while Angelica Henry finished with 17 and Alex Puckett had 11.