HIGH POINT, NC — Winthrop Media Relations
Freshman guard Aliyah Kilpatrick scored a career-high 20 points and Dequesha McClanahan converted four free throws in the final 15 seconds to lead Winthrop to a 67-62 Big South Conference win over High Point in a battle of second place teams.
Winthrop, which was playing without its second-leading scorer Diana Choibekova who is out with a sprained ankle, built a 17-point second half lead, but had to withstand a big run by the Panthers tosnap a two-game losing streak. The victory was the first for Winthrop in the Millis Center since 2008 and gives the Eagles a sweep of their regular season series with High Point University. The Panthers now lead the all-time series 21-17.
The win improves Winthrop's conference record to 10-4 and 16-10 overall while High Point slips to 9-5 in league play and 15-10 overall.
Kilpatrick scored 13 of her points in the second half as she led a 21-9 run to open the second half and stake Winthrop to a 17-point lead at 49-32 with 13 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game. That's when the Panthers went on a 28-12 run on the strength of Lindsay Puckett's 3-point assault to get to within a single point at 61-60 with 2:39 remaining. Puckett scored all 14 of her points during that run, but it wasn't enough as McClanahan connected on six free throws in the final two minutes to save the win for Winthrop.
“You couldn't ask for anything more heart from your team leader,” said Winthrop assistant coach Matt Huddleston about the clutch free throws by McClanahan.
“We were in a fight to hold our ground for second place,” he said. “Coach Cook (Kevin) talked to the team about how important that was going to be today and they came out and did it without Chobie,” he said.
It was at the free throw stripe where Winthrop won the game as the Eagles connected on 18 of 21 charity tosses while High Point made just 5 of 6 free throws.
In the anticipated battle between Winthrop's 6-foot-3 freshman center Schaquilla Nunn and High Point's 6-foot-4 junior Cheyenne Parker, it was nearly a draw as both players recorded double-doubles. Nunn scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to give her 11 double-doubles this year while Parker finished with 13 points and 11 boards despite missing over nine minutes of the first half with foul trouble. Parker did win the blocked shot battle as she had eight to become the all-time Big South Conference block leader. Nunn finished with four blocked shots.
Joining Kilpatrick and Nunn in double figures for Winthrop were McClanahan with 19 and Samiya Wright with 11. High Point also had four players in double figures. In addition to Puckett's 14 and Parker's 13, Tayler Tremblay led the Panthers with 16 while Lexi Patterson added 11.
The Eagles fell behind 10-4 to open the game, but then went on a 9-2 run to take a 13-12 lead at the 10:41 mark of the first half on a steal and lay-up by Wright.
A key point in the first half occurred with just under 10 minutes left when Parker was whistled for her second foul and had to got to the bench with her team trailing 16-14. She had seven points, five rebounds and three blocks in the opening 10-plus minutes.
After Patterson regained the lead for the Panthers on her second 3-pointer of the period with 8:16 on the clock, but the Eagles outscored HPU 12-4 to go up 28-21 thanks to six points from Kilpatrick and a follow shot by Nunn. The final four points came on back-to-back steals and length of the court uncontested lay-ups by Kilpatrick. Stacia Robertson scored inside for High Point just before the buzzer sounded to end the first half with Winthrop leading 28-23.
Winthrop will finish its regular season with four home games over the next two weeks. Winthrop will be in action again on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. when it looks to avenge an earlier loss to Longwood.