Winthrop couldn't overcome a 13-point halftime deficit as it fell 59-44 to third-seeded Gardner-Webb on Saturday at the Millis Center in the semifinals of the Big South Conference tournament.
Gardner-Webb (22-10), which makes its third straight appearance in the championship game, used a 12-2 run to end the first half and turn a three-point game into a 31-18 lead at the half.
Winthrop tried to fight its way back into the game in the second half and had several opportunities, but just couldn't get the offense going.
The Lady Eagles (13-18) fell behind by 18 points with 15:55 to go in the game, but inched its way back and trailed by just 10 points with 5:25 to go after a basket inside by TaQuoia Hammick.
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Winthrop got the stop defensively it needed on the next possession, but a turnover proved costly as LaTroya Pope got the steal that led to a lay-up on the other end by Dominique Hudson for a 12-point advantage.
The Runnin' Bulldogs took advantage of the 18 turnovers by Winthrop, converting them into 25 points.
"We just missed so many shots and they got some run outs on us," said Winthrop coach Bud Childers. "Jasmine Dale hit a couple of threes to give them separation. I like the way we competed in the first half, if we could have just made some shots. I want to congratulate Rick (Reeves) and his team. They have a great core. It will be a heck of a game tomorrow."
Dequesha McClanahan finished the game 3-for-17 from the field and Lacey Lyons was 1-for-10 as many shots went in and out for the Lady Eagles.
"I thought our kids battled hard," said Childers. "We had a lot of good looks today and just couldn't get any to go in. Our kids battled. It's been a very tough, rough week for us. I've enjoyed coaching at Winthrop. I've enjoyed working with the folks in the Big South. I hope things continue to grow."
Dominique Hudson and Monique Hudson combined for 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting while Sandra Vaikute had a strong game inside on 7-for-9 shooting and 17 points.
This was the fifth appearance in the semifinals over the past six seasons for Winthrop.
Hammick led the way for Winthrop with a double-double for the second straight game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. McClanahan finished with 12 points and Kaitlyn Rubino added seven points and 11 rebounds.
LIBERTY 76, HIGH POINT 55 -- Behind Avery Warley's double-double of a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds, the No. 1-seeded Liberty Flames defeated No. 4 seeded High Point Panthers.
Liberty (22-9) advances to the Big South title game for the fourth consecutive year and Conference record 14th time overall.
Warley tallied her 18th double-double of the season, and scored her 1,000th career-point late in the second half. She was followed on the team by Jelena Antic, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. Leading the Panthers was Shamia Brown with 19 points, while Mackenzie Maier followed with 16 points. Panther guard Jurica Hargraves set a new High Point Division I record for career scoring, as she ends her career with 1,340 points.
The Lady Flames scored 54 of their 76 points in the paint, compared to High Point's 10, and out-rebounded the Panthers, 47-29. Liberty shot 49.2 percent (32-65) from the field, while HPU managed 35 percent (20-57).
The Lady Flames used their depth in the paint to start the game with an 18-9 lead after eight minutes, including a 14-2 run that featured eight points from Warley. A Shamia Brown jumper followed by a breakaway lay-in put some life back into the Panther offense as they closed the gap to within four, 22-18, with 7:17 remaining in the first half. High Point (16-15) kept fighting as it scored two-straight three pointers by Erin Reynolds and Maier to close within one, 25-24 at the 4:18 mark. But the Flames went on an 11-2 run to end the half with a 10-point advantage at 36-26.
Liberty had 24 of its 36 points in the paint, with Warley registering 14 points and six rebounds, including four offensive in the first half. Devon Brown followed with seven point and three rebounds. Maier and Shamia Brown led High Point with eight and seven points, respectively.
Big South Conference