LYNCHBURG, Va. — League-leading Liberty outscored visiting Winthrop by 15 points over the final nine minutes for a 69-54 Big South Conference victory Thursday night in the Vines Center.
Winthrop has lost two straight games following an eight-game winning streak and falls to 15-10 overall and 9-4 in the conference. Liberty swept the regular season series and continued its dominance over Winthrop as the Flames own a 44-8 series lead.
Winthrop, trying to avenge a 90-57 loss at home to Liberty on Dec. 29, made a game of it for more than 28 minutes and led 42-38 on a 3-pointer by Diana Choibekova with 12:12 left. But Liberty made a 14-2 run over a 7 minute, 27 second stretch to take a 52-44 lead with 4:25 remaing. During that fateful stretch, Winthrop missed five straight shots,committed one of its 16 turnovers, and had Choibekova leave the game with a leg injury.
Dequesha McClanahan led all scorers with 25 points and she also dished out seven assists, but had 12 turnovers. She also grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds before suffering the injury. Freshman center Schaquilla Nunn, 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the first meeting, was held to two points and five rebounds.
Liberty was led by 6-2 center Tolu Omotola, with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Devon Brown came on late to finish with 15 points. She scored 32 against Winthrop in the first meeting.
Winthrop shot just 31 percent from the field (18-59) and was outrebounded 40-39. After shooting 30 percent in the first half, (9-30), Liberty shot 56 percent in the second period (15-27) and finished the game at 42 percent ( 24-57).
Liberty led 25-23 at intermission as both teams had problems finding the basket and turnovers equaled totaled field goals.
Winthrop led 10-8 just over six minutes into the game after McClanahan connected on a 15-footer, but Liberty went on a 12-2 run to go ahead 20-12 after Tolu Omotola's lay-up with 8:12 left in the period. Winthrop took advantage of four straight Flame turnovers to make a 9-0 run of its own to take a 21-20 lead when McClanhan scored her 11th point of the half on a short jumper with just under five minutes remaining.
Emily Frazier countered with her second 3-pointer of the game to give the lead by to Liberty. Brittany Campbell and Winthrop's Taylor Calvert traded a pair of free throws to close out the half.
Winthrop will play its final road game of the season on Saturday when it travels to High Point for a 3:30 showdown for second place in the Big South standings.