Winthrop coach Bud Childers says he's a firm believer that offense wins games and defense wins championships.
So, if that's the case and the Eagles continue to play D like they have in their five-game winning streak, they'll be a legitimate contender for the Big South Conference title.
Winthrop's defense is holding opponents to 57.9 points a game and 33 percent shooting from the field. That shooting percentage puts the Eagles No. 2 nationally behind top-ranked Connecticut.
"This is the time of year when you need to know what we do well and play to those strengths," Childers said before heading off to prepare for this afternoon's home matchup with Charleston Southern. "Our offense is getting better, but right now we need to hang our hat on defense."
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And it was tight defense late in Winthrop's conference opener on Jan. 23 that set the stage for Tiffany Rodd's game-winning 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining.
"We had to make three defensive stops in the last minute and a half to stay in that game, and each time we did it," Childers said. "We scored on two of the three, including the last shot that won it."
Rodd's 3-pointer, her 49th of the season, gave the Eagles, 13-6 and 1-0 in the BSC, a 68-67 win on the road.
"I knew it was in as soon as it left her hand," Childers said.
Those three stops at the end were a far cry from how the Lady Eagles' defense played at the beginning of the game. Winthrop entered the High Point game with wins over Converse, USC Upstate and Presbyterian. The Lady Panthers, on the other hand, already had one conference win under their belts.
"Those three games gave us confidence, but they didn't get us ready for the type defense we'd needed to play against High Point," Childers said. "We didn't get our defensive legs until about 5 1/2 minutes into the second half. After that, I think we played with a lot of poise on defense."
Childers knows his defense will need to step up to the plate against the Lady Buccaneers, who stunned preseason favorite Radford 86-78 the last time out.
"They're a lot like High Point," Childers said. "They're a guard-oriented team with a lot of quickness. Our defense will be tested."