Coastal Carolina, winless in its first three Big South Conference games, came into the Winthrop Coliseum on Wednesday and outplayed the Eagles in almost every phase of the game. The Lady Chanticleers ruled the second half and left with a 52-47 victory.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 14-7, 2-1 in the BSC. Coastal, which started the season 11-3, improved to 12-6, 1-3.
"You have to credit Coastal," Winthrop coach Bud Childers said. "They did the things they had to do to win the ball game. We didn't.
"We had too many players not have a good game tonight for us to overcome that."
Winthrop was trying to become the first team in school history to win seven straight games since the 1985-86 season. The Eagles were also looking for their 15th win, which would have been the most since they became an NCAA Division I member.
They were also hoping to take a 3-0 league record to Lynchburg, Va., for Saturday's matchup against Liberty (18-2, 3-0).
But the Eagles fell short, especially in the area that Childers felt would be the deciding factor.
"We said before the game that the team that won the battle of the boards would probably win the game," Childers said. "We were up at the half (22-18), but they killed us in the second half and that was key."
Coastal ended with a 52-47 advantage on rebounds. The Lady Chants also improved their shooting percentage from 22 in the first half to 47 in the second.
Winthrop seemed a tick out of sync in the early minutes of the first half, falling behind 6-2 on a pair of 3-pointers by Lacey Lyons.
Childers' animated talk during the first media timeout at 15:56 proved to be a wake-up call for the Eagles, who broke the huddle and went on a 14-2 run.
"We missed some opportunities during that time where we could have built on that lead and we didn't," Childers said. "It almost appeared like we expected the game was going to fall in our hands.
"I keep telling them that in conference basketball, you have to earn everything you get."
Yvonne Daalen hit a 3-pointer, which was followed by two baskets by Ashley Fann, the Big South Conference player of the week who was honored before tipoff for joining the 1,000-point club. Fann ended the night with 19 points. Van Daalen added 10.
Jessica's Fansler 3-pointer and Ashley Haugtvedt's inside move made it 16-8.
The Lady Chants trimmed the deficit to 16-12 before stringing together seven unanswered points. Lyons' third 3-pointer cut Winthrop's lead to 23-15.
Winthrop appeared to have things under control.
That proved not to be the case by a long shot.
"We didn't come out of the locker room ready to play," Childers said. "This is conference play and no lead is big enough that you can take a 10-minute snooze."
Once again, the Eagles were flat early in the second half and the Lady Chants wasted little time, scoring nine unanswered points to take the lead 24-23 on a free throw from Devin Rivers with 14:55 left. A pair of jumpers by Coastal's Vicky Blanchard made it 28-23 as the Eagles missed their first seven shots from the field.
A 3-pointer by van Daalen ended the scoring drought at the 10:53 mark. Two free throws by Fann 42 seconds later tied it, but the Lady Chants countered on another Lyons 3-pointer and Coastal was back on top.
Down 36-30 with 7:44 left, the Eagles went to work with seven unanswered points that included 3-pointers by Shelley Hankins and Tiffany Rodd, her only basket of the night.
Once again, the Lady Chants scratched their way back into the lead 42-41 on Blanchard's 3-pointer with 2:42 left. They never trailed again.
"There were times when I thought we had turned things around, but we just couldn't make the big stop," Childers said.