Winthrop women win Big South opener at High Point

December 14, 2013 

— Dequesha McClanahan led five Winthrop University players in double figures with a team-high 17 points and became the school’s all-time scoring leader as the Eagles opened Big South Conference play with a 79-72 win over High Point on Saturday afternoon in the Millis Center.

McClanahan scored 17 points and had her fourth double-double of the year with 10 assists while Schaquilla Nunn collected her seventh double-double with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds as Winthrop improves to 6-2 overall while High Point drops to 5-4 and 1-1 in conference play.

McClanahan scored her sixth point of the game with 4:23 remaining in the first half to surpass Charles Brunson, who had held the record of 1,850 career points since 1982. McClanahan now has 1,862 points, and her 10 assists leaves her six shy of breaking the women’s assist record, which stands at 595.

Joining McClanahan and Nunn in double figures were Erica Williams with 16, Samiya Wright with a season-high 15 points, and Taylor Calvert, with a season-best 11.

Winthrop actually won the game at the free throw stripe where it connected on 23 of 30 compared to 11 of 15 for the Panthers. It took the free throw advantage to offset High Point’s 3-point shooting attack. The Panthers connected on 9 of 23 from long distance and it was the three ball that helped bring High Point back from a 19-point first-half deficit to take a 53-51 lead with 14:21 left in the game.

“This was like three games in one,” said Winthrop head coach Kevin Cook. “Thank goodness we won the first and third games.”

After trailing 7-2 after the opening three minutes, Winthrop caught fire as it went on a 23-4 run over a five-minute stretch to take a 25-11 lead with just less than 11 minutes left in the first half. The run was fueled by inside scoring of Williams and Nunn, who were the beneficiaries of five assists from McClanahan. Williams scored nine of her first-half points during that stretch, while Nunn added six.

The Eagles rolled to a 38-19 lead with 4:23 left in the first half after McClanahan scored her record-setting points, but from that point until intermission, the complexion of the game changed as High Point closed out the half with a 16-5 run to make it a 43-35 score at the break. High Point made its late first-half run despite losing its leading scorer, Tayler Tremblay, to a leg injury midway through the half. Panther freshman Kaylah Keys sparked the comeback with seven of her career-high 26 points.

High Point continued its comeback to open the second half as it outscored Winthrop 13-5 in the opening four minutes and 32 seconds. Lindsay Puckett opened the period with a three ball and Latrice Phelps converted a three-point play to tie the game at 48 all at the 15:28 mark. McClanahan and Puckett traded buckets and Wright made one of two free throws to keep Winthrop ahead by one at 51-50 with 14:53 remaining. Keys then knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Panthers their first lead at 53-51 with 14:21 left in the game.

Nunn responded with a layup to knot that game at 53-53 with just more than 14 minutes left. The game was tied for the final time at 54 after High Point’s DeAnneisha Jackson and Wright traded free throws, but Winthrop responded with a 13-2 run in the next five minutes to retake a double-digit lead at 67-56, when McClanahan drilled her only trey of the game at the 7:19 mark. Winthrop led twice by as many as 12 points in the final six minutes and hung on for the win.

The Eagles finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field, 77 percent from the free throw line, and outrebounded the Panthers 44-41.

Winthrop will now take a week off before facing No. 12 South Carolina at noon Friday at the Colonial Life Center in Columbia.

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