It didn’t come as easy as it may have looked, but the Winthrop Lady Eagles are off to their best start in decades improving to 4-0 with an 84-71 win over William and Mary Saturday at the Winthrop Coliseum.
It’s the best start for the Lady Eagles since 1972.
“This is a special team,” said head coach Kevin Cook. “It’s a very dedicated bunch. They know when it’s time to take care of business. They are a fun group to be around.”
Five Winthrop players scored in double figures, led by freshman Erica Williams, who had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
It was freshman Zoe Vernon, who came off the bench to score 13 points, nine in the first half; that to propel Winthrop who trailed early.
“I knew I had to step up,” Vernon said. “I had to play as hard as I could and seize the opportunity.”
Vernon, who is coming off two knee surgeries, has been pushed all season by Cook.
“I haven’t made it easy for her,” Cook said. “Zoe really was a spark for us in the first half.”
Winthrop led 38-24 at the half.
William & Mary tried to go inside for the higher percentage shot, but the Winthrop defense was on top of things.
After trading 3-point baskets, Winthrop extended its lead to 15 points. Sophomore Schaquilla Nunn was a big presence in the paint in the second half as she scored five of Winthrop’s first dozen points.
William and Mary started to play better about six minutes into the second half as it cut Winthrop’s lead to 12. The Tribe’s defense held the Lady Eagles in check early, limiting the number of shot attempts. The looks Winthrop did get they converted on going 5-for-7 in the first five minutes.
Offensively, William and Mary hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the second half, thus allowing them to close the gap.
However, every time Winthrop needed a big basket, it got one,, with a key 3-pointer from junior Samiya Wright allowing the Lady Eagles to keep a comfortable 16-point lead.
The Tribe wouldn’t go away and cut the the Lady Eagles’ lead to 10 at 63-53 with 7:30 left,. The gap was too great for William and Mary to overcome.
Winthrop women’s all-time leading scorer senior Dequesha McClanahan, was still a rebound and an assist from a triple-double with 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assist.
Williams stepped up in the second half scoring 12 points.
Winthrop 84, William & Mary 71
William & Mary 24 47 – 71
Winthrop 38 46 – 84
William & Mary (71) – Kasey Curtis 2-4 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Mathieu 8-14 0-1 19, Jazmen Boone 3-8 3-6 10, Anna Kestler 3-8 0-0 6, Kyla Kerstetter 4-9 3-4 12, Alexis Hofstaedter 1-4 0-0 2, Marlena Tremba 4-9 2-2 12, Latrice Hunter 1-4 0-0 3, Brooke Stewart 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 27-67 8-13 71.
Winthrop (84) – Schaquilla Nunn 4-8 3-4 11, Pamela Decheva 1-3 0-0 3, Dequesha McClanahan 6-22 3-5 15, Samiya Wright 4-9 2-2 13, Erica Williams 9-12 1-4 19, Tiffany Charles 3-4 2-2 8, CiiCii Buford 1-2 0-0 2, Zoe Vernon 6-10 0-0 13. Totals: 34-71 11-19 84.
Records: William & Mary 0-4, Winthrop 4-0.