GREENVILLE, N.C. -- For the first time since becoming a member of the NCAA Division I, the Winthrop women's basketball team captured its first tournament of any kind with a 50-49 victory over Jacksonville in the championship game of the Lady Pirate Invitational on Saturday.
The Eagles (5-2) made a defensive stop to seal the victory as Ashley Haugtvedt altered the final Jacksonville shot as Virginia Gregoire penetrated the lane and the ball hit off the backboard and bounced toward center court as the clock ran out.
Haugtvedt made the basket that put the Eagles up 48-46 as Franchesca Davenport made a nice entry pass to the post to lead to a lay-up. Davenport previously tied the game at 46-46 as she improvised on a broken play and hit a turnaround jumper from about 8 feet.
Yvonne van Daalen had hit two free throws with 21 seconds remaining to put Winthrop up four points, but Jacksonville cut the lead to just one on a 3-point basket by Regina Omoite with 16 seconds.
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"It's kind of neat to see it coming together," coach Bud Childers said. "We saw a lot of grit out there today. They were 4-1 and had a victory over an ACC team. I thought we played unbelievable defense tonight as they averaged 70-plus points per game and we held them to 49. We made the plays down the stretch that you have to make. That is a real growing up experience for our kids and I couldn't be more proud of them."
It looked as if the game might slip away from Winthrop as it had a couple of chances to tie the game but back-to-back possessions led to missed lay-ups by Haugtvedt and Ashley Fann. Haugtvedt's came with just over three minutes remaining and after making a defensive stand, Fann missed her shot under the basket after a nice feed from Davenport. But the team remained focused and was able to execute its offense and defense down the stretch.
Tiffany Rodd was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament as she finished with 15 points.
The first half was back and forth with neither team able to pull away, but Jacksonville made a small 9-4 run in the final 6 1/2 minutes to take a 28-23 lead into the locker room.
Winthrop shot 37 percent in the first half, but it was Fann that provided most of the offense with 9 points on 4-for-8 shooting. The rest of the team was 6-for-19 (31 percent). The Dolphins were not any better from the field (37 percent) and it was Ashley Williams that was 5-for-6 with 10 points that helped build the halftime lead. Jacksonville has led at halftime in every game it's played this season.
Winthrop will be back in action on Monday as it continues its road trip with a visit to Norfolk, Va., to take on Norfolk State at 6 p.m.