Eagles host Radford with 2nd place at stake

Winthrop is fighting for the No. 2 seed in the Big South tournament, starting with a contest against Radford, which is tied for second in the league with the Eagles at 7-3.
Winthrop is fighting for the No. 2 seed in the Big South tournament, starting with a contest against Radford, which is tied for second in the league with the Eagles at 7-3.

Winthrop, fresh off a shocking victory over Liberty, takes on Radford this afternoon with sole possession of second place in the Big South Conference up for grabs once again.

With two games left, the Eagles and Highlanders are 7-3 against the league and are guaranteed no worse than the No. 3 seed in the upcoming tournament, because No. 4 High Point already has six BSC losses.

Winthrop closes out the regular season at home against UNC Asheville, while the Highlanders travel to Liberty. The Flames, 9-1 and assured of a share of the regular-season title, have a game against UNC Asheville (2-8) today.

The win over Liberty was arguably the biggest in Winthrop women's basketball history.

"They were pretty excited Wednesday night, but it was back to work Thursday," Winthrop coach Bud Childers said. "They know that this is an important one for us and them."

With the win over Liberty, the Eagles improved to 19-9, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Those 19 victories came in 1973-74 during Winthrop's AIWA days and included wins over North Carolina (60-55), South Carolina (47-40) and Tennessee (55-53).

Winthrop has made the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I this season -- Syracuse is second and Dayton third -- and the Eagles have the best record among the 11 D-I schools in South Carolina. The Eagles and Coastal Carolina (15-10) are the only Division I schools in the Palmetto State with winning records.

Radford won the first meeting 65-57 in Rock Hill. Second place was on the line that night, too.

Childers and the Eagles know they can't afford to allow the Highlanders to jump out to a double-digit lead like they did in Rock Hill.

The Highlanders opened the game with a 7-0 run as the Eagles missed their first seven shots and Winthrop committed five turnovers in its first eight possessions. Radford built its first-half lead to 21-4 before Winthrop got into the flow.

But the hole was just too deep.

"It was disgusting watching that tape," Childers said. "We helped them in so many ways.

"We fouled the shooter 14 times. We missed a bunch of layups and we let them out-rebound us. We have to correct those things."

WINTHROP (19-9, 7-3 BIG SOUTH) AT RADFORD (20-9, 7-3)

• When: 3 p.m.

• Where: Dedmon Center, Radford, Va.

• TV: None

• On the Web:, click on "Listen Live"

• Winthrop's probable starters: G Yvonne van Daalen 5-9 Jr. (5.9 ppg, 4.3 apg); G Tiffany Rodd 6-0 Jr. (11.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Ashley Fann 6-0 Jr. (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg); F Franchesca Davenport 5-11 Jr. (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg); C Jennifer Walker 6-2 Jr. (5-4, ppg, 3.6 rpg)

• Radford's probable starters: C Kelli Darden 6-3, Sr. (13.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg); F Corrie Fertitta 6-1, Sr. (10.8, 7.6 rpg); G Vandy Pullen 5-9, Jr. (10.2, 3.3 rpg); G Johnette Walker 5-8, Jr. (11.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg); G Taleia Moton 5-4 Fr. (12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

• Notes: Today's matchup is for sole possession of second place in the standings. ... Radford won the first meeting in Rock Hill and leads the series 47-6. ... Radford has a pair of 1,000-point career scorers in Darden and Fertitta, but the Eagles' defense held the talented inside players to six and eight points in the first game. ... Walker pulled down 12 rebounds to help the Highlanders to a 43-32 advantage on the boards. ... Freshman guard Taleia Morton was suspended for the last game with UNC Asheville but is listed as a starter for today. ... Winthrop's 19 wins ties the school record set in 1973-74 when the Eagles went 19-6 under coach Mary Roland Griffin.

• Up next: Winthrop hosts UNC Asheville in the regular-season finale at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.