Prior to the 2007-08 season, women's basketball coach Bud Childers challenged Winthrop with a number of goals. Considering the Eagles were coming off a disastrous 6-26 campaign, Childers' list was longer than normal.
One goal near the top was to have 12 or more wins before the Big South Conference season began at High Point Jan. 23. That's within sight after last week's 76-52 win over Division II Converse -- Winthrop's 10th of the season -- and two upcoming home games against transitional NCAA Division I schools, which are a combined 5-29.
But Childers knows his squad will get an inspired effort from USC Upstate (4-11) at 7 p.m. today and transitional Big South member Presbyterian (1-18 heading into Tuesday's game against Charleston Southern) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"(USC Upstate) is a team that will create some issues," Childers said Monday during his weekly coaches' luncheon. "They're not very big but they're extremely quick and they have a lot of weapons they can throw at you speed- and quickness-wise."
Childers coached against the Spartans' coach Tammy George when she played at Charlotte. He remembers her as a tough, hard-nosed player and said her team plays the same way.
"They beat one of our Big South rivals, Charleston Southern, on the road in a place that's not easy to play," Childers said, "and they beat College of Charleston in Charleston by 11.
George could be without captain Courtney Powell, who injured her knee and missed the last 8:40 of a Jan. 14 loss to Gardner-Webb. Powell was scheduled to be re-evaluated Tuesday and her status could be a game-time decision.
The Spartans lost their fifth straight Monday but played Atlantic Sun-leading Gardner-Webb close until Powell was injured.
"It's another game where we played hard and just came a little bit short," George said in an article posted on the team's Web site after the game. "The kids fought like crazy. We executed our game plan pretty well. We just couldn't score on the offensive end. They don't give up and I am very proud of them for that."
After consecutive losses at Wichita State, George Mason and Charlotte, the Eagles have won two straight. Reserve Jessica Fansler came off the bench to lead the Eagles over Converse with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
USC UPSTATE (4-11) AT WINTHROP (7-3)
• When: 7 p.m.
• Where: Winthrop Coliseum
• TV: None
• On the Web: winthropeagles.com, click on "Listen Live"
• USC Upstate's probable starters: G Courtney Bradley 5-5 Jr. (6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg); G Courtney Hawkins 5-4 So. (13.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg); G Cherale Powell Jr. (5-9, ppg, 1.4 rpg); C Kimberly Pitman 6-2 Jr. (1.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg); F Shanea Wyatt 5-10 So. (5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
• Winthrop's probable starters: G Yvonne van Daalen 5-9 Jr. (5.9 ppg, 4.4 apg); G Tiffany Rodd 6-0 Jr. (11.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg); F Ashley Fann 6-0 Jr. (12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg); F Franchesca Davenport 5-11 Jr. (6.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg); C Ashley Haugtvedt 6-2 Jr. (7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
• Notes: Winthrop leads the series 10-5 and has won the last five. ... This is the first time the two teams have met since 1998, when the Eagles won 76-57. ... Fann has 500 career rebounds. ... Saturday's home game with Presbyterian will be telecast on CN2 (cable channel 14 in Rock Hill). ... Bradley, USC Upstate's leading scorer, is listed as day-to-day after suffering a knee injury with 8:40 left in Monday's 73-56 loss to Gardner-Webb. Bradley is the Spartans' leading scorer and is No. 1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference with 66 assists.
• Up next: Winthrop hosts Presbyterian at 8 p.m. Saturday.