Sports

Lady Eagles hope to bounce back after humbling loss

Winthrop's Lady Eagles face Memphis today at noon in the final round of the Sunsplash Shootout, and the game will give one team an opportunity to save face while the other will have a long plane ride home to lick their wounds.

Winthrop (4-4) was crushed by 25th-ranked Georgia Tech on Thursday night by 38 points. Memphis (5-6) was pummeled by Texas-Arlington by 39.

How the Lady Eagles regroup from such a loss is anyone's guess. This is an experienced group and maybe it was just a really bad game.

Georgia Tech beat Winthrop 65-27. The 27 points allowed set a new standard for Georgia Tech. It was the lowest total for Winthrop since the 2004-05 season, when the Lady Eagles lost 79-26 at Liberty, and the third-lowest output in the school's history.

Shooting has been off all year, but Thursday night's 11-for-45 performance from the floor and 0-for-11 from beyond the arc was extraordinary.

Winthrop coach Bud Childers has traditionally had good shooting teams, particularly from 3-point range. Last year, the Lady Eagles shot 41.6 percent from the floor and 32.4 on 3-pointers.

He has everyone back from last year's team, but the shooting percentages have dropped dramatically (34.3 percent from the floor and 24.6 on 3-pointers). Winthrop has missed 19 consecutive 3-point shots dating back three games to the Nov. 30 UT-Martin game.

Tiffany Rodd, Winthrop's all-time 3-point leader, missed the George Mason game on Dec. 7 when the team went 0-for-6 on 3s but won anyway. She returned to the court against Georgia Tech, but came off the bench and was held scoreless -- 0-for-6 from the field, including three misses on 3-pointers.

"We are not shooting the ball very well," Childers said after the George Mason game. "It concerns me. I'm almost surprised by it. Usually as a player gets older their shooting percentage goes up and up and up. But defensively I think teams are doing different things against us.

"We just aren't making the wide-open three. But hopefully as the season progresses that will improve."

Today Winthrop goes against a team on a downturn. Memphis has lost four straight games. They are 0-for-December, with each loss getting progressively worse.

The Lady Tigers lost by seven to Arkansas then dropped a 17-point game to South Alabama. They lost by 32 at Mississippi State Dec. 14 leading up to the Thursday's 84-45 in the Bahamas.

A common thread in Memphis' losing streak is turnovers. They are averaging 28 per game over their last four contests.

Paris Leonard, a 5-8 senior guard, paces the Lady Tigers with 16.4 points per game. She has scored 10 or more in nine of Memphis' 11 games this season.

Forward Ashley Thornton, a 6-foot senior, comes in at 10 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She has played against Winthrop before. She transferred to Memphis from Birmingham Southern, then a member of the Big South Conference.

She was named to the Big South All-Freshman team after averaging 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds a game despite missing the first seven games of the year due to a knee injury. She was the Big South freshman of the week two times in 2005-06.

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