CLINTON — Men’s basketball
Winthrop rolled to its seventh straight victory Thursday night with a 77-42 Big South win as Dequesha McClanahan and Diana Choibekova led four Eagles in double figures.
If this game had been a prize fight, Winthrop knocked Presbyterian to the mat in the first round en route to its largest victory margin over a conference foe since a 76-41 win over Charleston Southern in the 2008 Big South tournament.
The Eagles and Blue Hose entered the game tied with Liberty for first place in the conference standings, but Winthrop jumped on PC for a 15-0 lead in the opening four minutes, 36 seconds as five different players got into the scoring column.
The win improves Winthrop to 14-8 (8-2 Big South) while Presbyterian falls to 12-9, 7-3.
The Eagles built an insurmountable 36-15 halftime lead and coasted to a fifth straight double-digit victory. The Blue Hose managed to trim the deficit to 18 early in the second half when Karlee Taylor connected on a three to make it a 41-23 game, but from that point on McClanahan and her teammates ran off a 19-7 run to double the score on PC at 60-30 with just under nine minutes left in the game.
McClanahan put together a solid performance with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. Samiya Wright scored 13 and Aliyah Kilpatrick added 12. Schaquilla Nunn led all rebounders with nine, and blocked four shots to lead another strong defensive effort by Winthrop.
Taylor was the only Presbyterian player in double figures as she finished with 16 and went 4 of 5 from behind the arc.
It was the defense that came up big again for Winthrop as they forced Presbyterian into 23 turnovers that led to 32 Eagle points. Winthrop coach Kevin Cook said it was the defensive pressure that set the tone for the game.
“We had great intensity on the defensive end,” he said. “I was really proud of the way we started the game. That is about as well as we can play, and again it was the defense that fueled the effort.
“We had some breakdowns in the second half and its only natural because it’s hard to keep your intensity level when you have that kind of margin going into the half, but we had a lot of people contribute.”
Choibekova got Winthrop off and running when she nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead 90 seconds into the game. Kilpatrick followed with a lay-up off a steal by Taylor Calvert, and Choibekova followed with a basket just inside the 3-point line to make it a 7-0 game. McClanahan made it 9-0 on a layup and then Calvert made a three-point play to push the lead to 12-0. Wright ended the run with a 3-pointer at the 15:24 mark.
PC did not score until Shonda Burnside got a bucket inside the paint at the 14:59 mark. The Eagles responded with a 17-3 run to build the lead to 32-5 on a McClanahan lay-up with six minutes left in the period. The Blue Hose managed to outscore Winthrop 10-2 over the final four minutes of the first half.
For the game, Winthrop shot 42 percent (28-66) and connected on 9 of 22 from behind the arc. The Eagles also went 12 of 13 from the free throw stripe. Winthrop held PC to 36 percent field goal shooting (15-42) and is now 14-2 on the season when its hold the opponent to 40 percent or below from the field.
The Eagles will visit Charleston Southern on Saturday at 2 p.m.