CONWAY — Diana Choibekova connected on six 3-pointers and scored 23 points to lead four players in double figures as Winthrop won its fifth straight game with a 76-52 victory over Coastal Carolina on Thursday night at the HTC Center.
The five straight wins equals Winthrop’s longest streak since last season and improves the Eagles’ record to 12-8 overall and 6-2 in the Big South Conference. Coastal lost for the fifth straight time to drop its record to 7-12 overall and 2-7 in the conference.
Choibekova made six of her eight 3-point attempts with four of those bombs coming in the second half when Winthrop pulled away from a six-point lead to win its third straight game by 20 or more points. Joining the senior in double figures were Dequesha McClanahan with 16, Aliyah Kilpatrick, 14, and Samiya Wright, 11.
Winthrop was without the services of three-time Big South Conference Freshman of the Week Schaquilla Nunn, who was not in uniform due to a mild concussion.
“I was very happy with our defensive effort tonight,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “It was a very business-like win.
We wanted to make more free throws than Coastal took. That was one of our goals coming into the game.”
On the night Winthrop went 23 of 29 from the stripe while Coastal was 12 of 17.
“We are in the hunt. All of these games are important,” said Cook.
Without Nunn and with Taylor Calvert having to sit 17 minutes in the first half after being whistled with two quick fouls, the Eagles turned to their freshman guard Aliyah Kilpatrick and a quick-moving zone defense to build up a double-digit halftime lead of 32-22. Winthrop connected on four of its final six shots of the half, including two 3-pointers from Samiya Wright and Choibekova to close the half on a 11-5 run.
The Eagles got off to a terrible shooting performance as they started just 3 of 15, but thanks to the Winthrop defense, Coastal was even worse as it made just 3 of its first 18 shots in the opening eight minutes of the game.
Kilpatrick scored eight first half points and delivered two assists. Her three-point play on a drive to the basket gave the Eagles a 10-point lead at 29-19 with 1:30 left in the half. Choibekova’s second three ball of the game gave Winthrop a brief 13 point advantage with just over a minute left, but Coastal’s Shania Cole answered with a quick 3-pointer to end the half with Winthrop up by 10.
Except for a brief two-minute stretch of the second half that saw Coastal go on a 6-0 run to trail 44-38 with 12:44 left in the game, Winthrop dominated the final period.
With Choibekova drilling four more threes McClanahan, Kilpatrick and Calvert combining to make 15 of 17 free throws, Winthrop outscored the Chants 44-30 in the second half. After Coastal trimmed the deficit to six, the Eagles went on a 22-8 run to take a 66-46 lead with just over four minutes left in the contest.
“Chobie is a pure shooter and tonight she was on fire,” Cook said. Her 23 points were a season-high.
Winthrop finished game shooting 40 percent from the floor (22-55) while holding Coastal to 31 percent (18-57). Coastal won the rebounding battle 41-36. McClanahan led Winthrop on the glass with eight rebounds.
Winthrop will travel to Buies Creek, N.C., for a 1 p.m. game Saturday against Campbell.