Winthrop women advance to Big South semifinals with win over Coastal Carolina

Staff and wire reportsMarch 6, 2014 

Winthrop's Erica Williams ducks around Coastal's Alexx Puckett in the first half of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Championship game between the number six seed Chanticleers and number three seed Eagles at HTC Arena Thursday, March 6th, 2014

MATT SILFER FOR THE SUN NEWS.

— Dequesha McClanahan scored a game-high 24 points and Erica Williams recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead Winthrop to a 77-58 quarterfinal win over Coastal Carolina in the 2014 Big South Conference Championship on Thursday night at the HTC Center.

The victory sets a Winthrop school record for wins as it improves to 22-8 while Coastal ends its season at 15-16. Winthrop, the No. 3 seed, will advance to the semifinal round on Saturday when the Eagles will face No. 2 seed Liberty at 8 p.m. Top-seeded High Point will face No. 4 seed Campbell as the top four seeds advanced for the first time since 2008.

Winthrop shot 50 percent for the game (30-60) and limited the Chanticleers to 31.7 percent (20-63) as the Eagles defeated Coastal for the third time this season.

Defense and Winthrop's ability to get the ball inside were keys in the win. The defense forced 19 Coastal turnovers and made a season-high 15 steals to gain a 19-11 points off turnovers, but it was in the paint where Winthrop won the game. The Eagles had a 46-20 advantage inside the lane as Williams and Nunn scored 12 of their combined 14 field goals in the paint. The double-double by Williams marked the first time a Winthrop player accomplished that feat in a tournament game since 2010.

Tiffany Charles came up big defensively for Winthrop, setting a new Big South tournament record with nine steals, including seven in the first half when the Eagles closed out the half on a 12-2 run to take a 37-25 lead at intermission

Winthrop led 37-27 at halftime as the Eagles closed out the half with a 12-2 run to close out the first half. Williams accounted for six of those points. The closest that Coastal could get in the second half was five on two occasions. Katelyn Connor converted one of two free throws to cut the lead to five at 41-36 with 16:20 remaining, but Williams answered with a layup and the Chanticleers would get no closer.

Winthrop stretched the margin to 13 when Samiya Wright scored on a layup following one of Charles' steals. The lead went to 14 on a layup by Williams with 5:56 left. McClanahan's jumper at the 3:20 mark grew the lead to 16. Winthrop's largest lead of 19 came with just over a minute left in the game.

In addition to McClanahan's 24 points and the 20 by Williams, Winthrop also got double figure performances from Wright with 13 and Nunn, 11. Coastal placed three players in double digits as Jordan led the Chanticleers with 18.

Elsewhere in women’s basketball on Thursday:

ACC tournament

Syracuse 63, Clemson 53

Brittney Sykes scored 10 points to help Syracuse beat Clemson 63-53 in Thursday’s second round of the ACC tournament.

Sykes scored two straight baskets to cap an 8-0 second-half burst for the fifth-seeded Orange (22-8), pushing Syracuse to a 52-41 lead with 6 minutes, 47 seconds left. Clemson got no closer than nine again.

The Orange advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals to play No. 14 N.C. State, the fourth seed.

Nikki Dixon and Nyilah Jamison-Myers each scored 15 for the 13th-seeded Tigers (13-19), who beat Virginia Tech in Wednesday’s first round.

Clemson shot 43 percent but went 2-for-12 from 3-point range.

Florida State 72, Miami 67, OT: Natasha Howard had 30 points and 16 rebounds to help Florida State beat Miami in overtime. Cheetah Delgado added 20 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (20-10).

FSU will face top-seeded and second-ranked Notre Dame (29-0) in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Necole Sterling scored 14 to lead the eighth-seeded Hurricanes (16-14).

SEC tournament

Georgia 53, Vanderbilt 43: Khaalidah Miller scored 12 and ninth-seeded Georgia beat No. 8 seed Vanderbilt in the second round of the SEC tournament in Duluth, Ga. The Bulldogs (20-10) will play No. 5 South Carolina, the tournament’s top seed, on Friday.

Christina Foggie, the SEC’s leading scorer this season, finished with 16 points for Vanderbilt (18-12).

Florida 71, Mississippi State 67: Jaterra Bonds scored 18, Kayla Lewis added 17 and Florida beat Mississippi State. The fifth-seeded Gators (19-11) will play No. 12 Kentucky, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, on Friday.

Kendra Grant had 14 points for Mississippi State (19-13).

Big South tournament

Campbell 63, Gardner-Webb 46: RaeChaun Edwards led Campbell with 15 points and Roslyn Presley added 12 in a quarterfinal victory in Conway, S.C. The fourth-seeded Camels (19-11) will play top seed High Point (21-9) in the semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m.

Candace Brown scored 11 to lead Gardner-Webb (16-14).

Big Ten tournament

No. 23 Iowa 81, Illinois 62: Bethany Doolittle scored 26 points as fifth-seeded Iowa (24-7) defeated Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.

Amber Moore had 26 points for the Illini (9-21).

Ohio State 86, Northwestern 77: Ameryst Alston scored 30 as eighth-seeded Ohio State (16-17) pulled away in the closing minutes to defeat ninth-seeded Northwestern.

The Buckeyes (16-17) will face top-seeded and 11th-ranked Penn State (22-6) on Friday.

Maggie Lyon led Northwestern (15-15) with 25 points.

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