It took the Winthrop women’s basketball team all of about five minutes Saturday afternoon to shake off the effects of a mostly-inactive week.
The Big South Conference schedule maker had already given the conference-leading Eagles a six-day break since a game with UNC Asheville the previous Saturday. And the winter storm that blasted the area disrupted the team’s practice schedule this week.
But Winthrop (19-6, 13-3) bounced back easily with its sixth straight victory, a 57-40 romp over Radford in front of 425 fans at Winthrop Coliseum. It was the fewest points given up by the Eagles in a game this season.
Forward Erica Williams scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and center Schaquilla Nunn scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Eagles, who improved their record to 11-1 at home.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sitting between a freshman (Williams) and a sophomore (Nunn), who both had double-doubles,” Winthrop coach Kevin Cook said in the post-game news conference.
The two helped the Eagles to a 46-29 rebounding advantage.
“That was a keyword for us today,” Nunn said. “The focus was rebounding because we hadn’t done that great on the boards in our last game.”
Williams added, “We had fresh legs because we didn’t have to do much this week, so we knew we would do well if we were strong with the ball and boxed out.”
And in fact, Winthrop didn’t have too many anxious moments after surviving a strong opening by the Highlanders (7-19, 5-12), who were led by guard Aisha Foy’s 12 points.
Radford, which had won its previous two games, never led. But the Highlanders had pulled to within 10-9 after a Foy three-pointer about 6 1/2 minutes into the game. The Eagles then went on an 18-6 run to go up 28-15. Radford cut the margin to 28-23, but never got closer than that.
The Eagles led 32-23 at halftime and, after the opening minutes of the second half, led by double digits the rest of the way.
“It took us a while to shake the dust off,” said Nunn, who topped the 500-point mark in her career in the first half. She also had four blocked shots and four steals. “But we just had to relax, let the game come to us and find a rhythm.”
It didn’t hurt that the Eagles limited Radford to 32.7 percent shooting from the field, including 7-of-26 in the second half.
“We’re seventh in the country in field goal percentage defense, and it’s nothing that the coaching staff has been doing,” Cook said. “This team has dedicated itself to being an excellent defensive ball club.”
Senior guard Dequesha McClanahan scored 12 points for the Eagles and inched closer to becoming the Big South’s career scoring leader in women’s basketball. She needs 39 more points to break the record of 2,154 set by Liberty’s Elena Kisseleva.
NOTES: Winthrop’s next two games are on the road, Big South contests at Longwood on Thursday, and at Liberty on Saturday. The next home game is Feb. 27 against High Point…A lot of the Eagles’ recent success has been achieved without the help of three-pointers. Winthrop was 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in this game, and is 1-for-20 in the last two.
Winthrop 57, Radford 40
RADFORD (7-19, 5-12): Rachael Ross 1-5 0-0 2, Aisha Foy 5-14 0-0 12, Ayana Avery 3-9 2-2 8, Breshara Gordon 1-8 0-0 2, Kiera McIvor 2-5 0-0 4, Kermisha Clark 4-6 2-3 10, De’June Robinson 1-2 0-0 2, Jordynn Gamon 0-3 0-0 0, Paris Brower 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-52 4-5 40.
WINTHROP (19-6, 13-3) Taylor Calvert 1-3 0-0 2, Erica Williams 7-12 4-5 18, Schaquilla Nunn 8-14 1-2 17, Dequesha McClanahan 6-19 0-1 12, Samiya Wright 0-9 0-0 0, Tiffany Charles 2-2 0-0 4, Brianna Boyd 0-1 2-2 2, Pamela Decheva 0-0 0-0 0, Zoe Vernon 1-2 0-1 2, Totals 25-62 7-10 57. .
Three-point goals: Radford 2-13 (Foy 2-5), Winthrop 0-7. Fouled out – None, Rebounds: Radford 29 (Ross 12), Winthrop 46 (Nunn 12). Assists — Radford 11 (Avery 5), Winthrop 8 (McClanahan 4 Total fouls — Radford 8, Winthrop 12. Technical fouls —None. A-425.