CHARLOTTE — A 26-point performance by Dequesha McClanahan and another double-double by Schaquilla Nunn weren’t enough as the Winthrop women’s basketball team lost its first game of the season, 63-60, to Charlotte on Tuesday night in Halton Arena.
The loss snaps Winthrop’s four-game winning streak as the Eagles dropped to 4-1 while Charlotte evened its record at 3-3. The victory was the 49ers’ 16th straight over the Eagles and gives them a 19-1 advantage in the series.
By the way that Winthrop played in the first half, it appeared as if the losing streak to Charlotte may come to an end. Even without the services of freshman Erica Williams and sophomore Nunn for most of the half due to foul problems, Winthrop led by as many as 13 points on two occasions. Pamela Decheva’s second 3-pointer of the half put Winthrop ahead 23-10 with 9:37 left in the period and a layup by junior Taylor Calvert made it a 25-12 lead with 5:23 remaining.
But, the tide began to turn for Charlotte in the final 4:55 of the first half as it used the 3-point shot to its advantage and whittled the Winthrop lead down to a point with just over a minute remaining when Clara Gregory connected on her second from behind the arc to make it a 28-27 game. Winthrop took a 31-27 lead at intermission after a Tiffany Charles free throw and a layup by Samiya Wright in the closing seconds.
“I thought we had a really good game plan, but we weren’t able to hit a 3-ball in the second half,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “We entered the locker room at the half with the lead and with Erica Williams playing just five minutes and Schaquilla Nunn just 10 minutes because of foul trouble, I thought we would go back out there and get it done, but we gave up one too many triples. I thought we battled right to the end. This was a tough one to swallow. There are no moral victories.”
The Eagles came out in the second half and built a 39-32 lead with 14:31 remaining when Nunn scored down low, but from that point Charlotte went on a 15-2 run over the next five minutes to claim a 47-41 lead. Hillary Sigmon’s 3-pointer with 11 minutes left gave the Niners their first lead at 43-41 since they led 3-0 in the opening seconds of the game. Another 3-pointer by Sigmon at the 8:12 mark put Charlotte up by seven at 50-43. Charlotte’s largest lead came with 6:46 remained after Lefty Webster connected on a 3 to make it a 55-47 game.
Winthrop’s McClanahan tried to single handedly put the team on her back down the stretch and got the Eagles to within one point at 59-58 on a driving layup followed by a free throw with 1:26 left to play, but Ny Hammond answered with a floater over Nunn 24 seconds later to make it a three-point game. Sigmon then sealed the win with two free throws with 11 ticks left on the clock to give Charlotte a 63-58 lead. Decheva scored on a follow shot with one second to make the final score 63-60.
In addition to her game-high 26 points, McClanahan also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists. She has now scored in double figures in 27 straight games. Nunn finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds as she recorded her 18th career double-double and fourth in five games this season. Decheva, a sophomore transfer from the University of South Carolina, had her first double figure game as an Eagle with 10. Freshman Williams, who came into the game averaging 20.5 points, was held scoreless as she missed all four of her field goals.
“I never thought I would see a game where they would hold Erica scoreless, but she will respond. Charlotte put their best defender on Erica and that shows the respect they had for her,” said Cook.
Winthrop will now travel to Moon Township, Pa., near Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving Day to prepare for the RMU Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Robert Morris. The Eagles will face UT-Martin, the 24th-ranked mid-major team, at 4 p.m. on Friday. They will meet Robert Morris on Saturday at 4 p.m.