Winthrop let a 15-point lead slip away in the final 10 minutes, 30 seconds and lost 65-62 to Gardner-Webb spoiling a record-breaking night for Tiffany Rodd and Ashley Fann.
Rodd broke the Big South record for career 3-pointers. Fann became Winthrop's all-time leading rebounder.
Winthrop (12-13, 6-6 BSC) led 54-39, then seemed to scale back the defense as Gardner-Webb chipped away at the lead. The Runnin' Bulldogs took full advantage of the lack of intensity.
The Lady Eagles defense looked bad when Laura Povilonyte was left wide open for a 3-pointer that cut the lead to five. It looked bad when 5-foot-5 Dominique Hudson pulled down an offensive rebound and found Meranda Burnette all alone for another 3.
Courtney Epps tied the game at 61 when she drove to the baseline and found enough room to drive a bus straight to the basket.
"All you gotta do is play basic defense and we win the game. I bet we had 15 to 18 possessions where we didn't play good defense in the second half," Winthrop coach Bud Childers said.
Tied at 61, Winthrop called a timeout with 29.1 seconds left to plan a go-ahead basket. Childers went to a play the team has worked on for a couple weeks in practice but hadn't used yet this season. He wanted a quick shot rather than the last shot.
Winthrop got the ball to Rodd for an open 15-footer in front of the Eagles bench. Something wasn't right. The shot missed badly with 25 seconds on the clock.
Hudson rebounded and fed a leading pass to Povilonyte, who was fouled going in for a layup. She made one of two from the line for 62-61 Lady Bulldogs lead.
"That was the play coach drew up. If I didn't get an open shot, I was looking for Fann but it just came off all wrong," Rodd said.
Epps hit two free throws with 16 seconds to go giving Gardner-Webb a 64-61 edge.
Rodd was fouled with six seconds and made the first foul shot before purposely missing the second. Shelly Hankins got a hand on the carom but G-W hauled it in. Margaret Roundtree hit a free throw to account for the final score.
A desperation 3 by Winthrop's Yvonne van Daalen clanked off the backboard at the buzzer.
Rodd and Fann had 23 points a piece.
Rodd was 6-of-14 from the field and 7-of-8 from the stripe. Fann notched her eighth double-double of the season with her 13 rebounds.
The rest of this veteran team tallied 16 points and 12 turnovers. Starters Shanice Cole and van Daalen did not score.
Rodd and Fann scored 35 of Winthrop's first 41.
"We didn't have a well-rounded game. We can't rely on trying to outscore teams," Childers said.
Karl Lyles | 329-4032 | firstname.lastname@example.org