Thirteen was the lucky number of the night for the Winthrop Eagles Thursday night, as they used two 13-0 runs to win their school-record 13th Big South game of the season, 62-54 over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at the Winthrop Coliseum. The 13 conference victories eclipses the mark of 12 set just last season.
Im going to play 13 in the Pickem, a laughing Winthrop Coach Kevin Cook said.
That number has become lucky, but we dont want to stop there. But the runs were big, fueled by our defense.
Winthrop scored 22 points off 26 Bulldog turnovers.
With Presbyterians win at Radford Thursday night, the Eagles remain tied for second in the Big South but can clinch the number two seed in next weeks conference tournament with a win Saturday at home against UNC-Asheville. Saturday is also Senior Day and the game will be on ESPN3 as the Eagles go for their 20th win of the season.
We took care of business and were comforted in knowing that if we take care of business one more time well have accomplished a couple things, Cook said. One, the number two seed, and two, on our wall in there, to be truthful with you a twenty-win season was one of our goals. Theres no scoreboard watching. We dont want to back into it. We want to earn that number-two seed.
Winthrops first 13-0 run covered about five minutes of the first half, and three timeouts by Bulldogs Coach Rick Reeves, and appeared to give them some breathing room with a 23-11 lead with 6:19 left in the half.
The scoring spree began with back-to-back three-pointers by junior guard Dequesha McClanahan and senior guard Diana Choibekova, who was back after missing three games due to injury.
Choibekova played 34 minutes and tossed in 17 points for the home team, 12 of which came in the second half.
However, Gardner-Webb answered with a 14-4 spurt to finish the first half trailing only 27-25. McClanahan, the Big Souths leading scorer and reigning Player of the Week, also started the second run with a three to put the Eagles up 42-37 with 10:50 remaining in the game.
After her basket at the 8:33 mark, the lead had swelled to 52-37 and the closest the Bulldogs would get the rest of the way was eight points.
McClanahan had a game-high 23 points to put her only 97 away from becoming the programs all-time leading scorer, and she also recorded her 500th assist early in the game.
She stuffed the stat sheet with five assists, six rebounds, two blocks and five steals.