Eagles off to best start since 1998-99 season

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- The Winthrop women's basketball team is off to its best start since the 1989-89 season at 4-2 after a 67-61 road victory at East Carolina on Friday at the Lady Pirate Invitational at the Minges Coliseum.

East Carolina had won all six previous meetings between the two schools, but the Eagles jumped out to a 24-point second half lead and were able to hold on for the win.

Winthrop opened the second half playing tough defense and enjoyed its first double-digit lead of the night at 38-28 with 16:11 remaining. The team then went on a 16-2 run over the next six minutes to build the 24-point cushion.

East Carolina hit five 3-pointers down the stretch and converted all three free throws after the Eagles fouled the shooter behind the arc to help cut the lead to just four points with 48 seconds remaining in the game. Winthrop didn't manage a field goal over the final 7:08 of the game, but was able to hit free throws down the stretch to hold on to the win.

"I thought we played really hard tonight," coach Bud Childers said. "We were so disappointed in our effort Sunday down in Tulane. We really wanted a chance to make amends for that. I thought our players played really hard tonight. It wasn't always pretty, but this isn't always an easy place to play. I thought we got great play from Jessica Fansler and Shanice Cole off the bench tonight."

Fansler was 3-for-7 from the field and finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Cole finished with four points and seven rebounds. Fansler was also 3-for-4 from the foul line, which includes her first miss from the charity stripe in her collegiate career. She hit 15 consecutive attempts to start her career before missing the second of two shots with 57 seconds left.

The game marked the second time in the last three contests that the Eagles have held a second-half lead of 20 points or more and let it slip away. But both times they have been able to hang on for the win.

"That was a real key for us in the second half," added Childers. "Our defense was pretty good all night long. They did hit some 3s late. They were throwing up some tough shots. I'm just glad our kids were able to hang on there and overcome some shots, calls as things got a little out of whack. It is a good win and we look forward to tomorrow."