Sports

Eagles prepare for end of regular season

Winthrop's women's basketball team can add to a growing list of impressive numbers from the 2007-08 campaign tonight with a win over UNC Asheville in the regular-season finale.

But the way coach Bud Childers sees it, tonight's game is more about momentum and confidence than a school-record 20 wins, the program's most-ever victories in the conference (eight), a chance to tie Radford for second place in the standings -- which would be the highest the Eagles have ever finished -- or finally beating Liberty after 25 straight losses.

"We lost a tough game at Radford on Saturday and you want to go into the conference tournament on a win, not a two-game losing streak," Childers said. "You want to be playing with confidence at the tournament, not wondering what's going to happen.

"We're still a team that's evolving and we're still learning how to handle close situations. We had some of those situations come up at Radford and we didn't handle them very well.

"We had ample opportunities to win the game, we just couldn't finish the deal."

Winthrop brings a 19-10 record into the game, but more importantly, it's 7-4 in the Big South Conference and will be the No. 3 seed when the tournament starts in Asheville, N.C., on March 14. UNC Asheville is 11-17, 2-9.

An Eagles win tonight and a Radford loss to Liberty on Friday would leave Winthrop with an 8-4 league mark, but the Lady Highlanders would get the No. 2 seed because they won both regular-season games.

"It's been a good solid year for us," Childers said. "It's a good feeling to be in the talk about who is in the mix of who deserves to be league champion."

It's been a disappointing year for the Lady Bulldogs, who won the Big South tournament last season but sit at the bottom of the standings.

"I'm sure the men's win here gave them a spike of encouragement," Childers said, referring to UNC Asheville's 63-50 win over the Winthrop men, a victory that gave the Bulldogs a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament. "I still remember their team celebrating with cake after the beat us here last year."

That celebration was for Betsy Blose becoming the all-time winningest coach in school history. The 60-47 victory was her 65th at UNCA.

Blose will only have seven players at her disposal tonight. Three season-ending injuries and a suspension have depleted the roster.

"They're in a tough situation right now," Childers said, "but they come in here and play hard. Everybody gives us their best shot."

In practice this week, Childers has been stressing getting back to what the Eagles do best and showing patience on the offensive end of the floor.

"We have to get the ball inside and score in the paint," he said. "We have to keep attacking, but we have to remain patient.

"There was a three- or four-minute stretch there at Radford that we became very impatient and that cost us."

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