Winthrop had it made. They won their Big South Conference opener at Presbyterian and were poised for a stretch of four straight conference games at home. Three games into that stretch, the Lady Eagles are still looking for their next conference win.
Saturday's 51-34 loss to Coastal Carolina was a new low for the team in a season filled with promise, but displaced by disappointment. The 34 points scored were Winthrop's lowest output at home since scoring 33 against UNC Asheville in 2005.
Winthrop fell to 6-9 overall and 1-3 in the Big South with the loss.
Winthrop trailed 34-30 with 10:27 left in the game. Coastal closed the game on a 17-4 run that left Winthrop coach Bud Childers with a lot of questions. This is a team with seven seniors coming off a 20-12 season.
"I'm embarrassed. There is no excuse for that," Childers said after the game. "We didn't give a legitimate all-out effort. You don't just lay down and take it like (Winthrop) did tonight. That effort tonight was just not appropriate."
Childers said this team reminds him of his 2006-07 squad. Both teams are almost the same, player for player. There were high expectations for that team, too. They finished 6-26.
Winthrop had nearly a full week of practice to plan for the game knowing it would be without shooting guard Tiffany Rodd. She will be sidelined for at least three more games with a high ankle sprain.
They had only a few hours to decide if leading scorer and rebounder Ashley Fann was a go. Fann injured her shoulder in the pregame shootaround. The 6-footer's left arm got caught on a teammate. It twisted and she heard a pop, according to Childers.
Fann came out to test the shoulder after the injury, about an hour before the game. Her movement was obviously restricted. She started the game with the shoulder heavily bandaged.
"Coastal just purely outhustled us," Childers said.
"The kids hung in there. They scrapped and plugged away," Coastal Carolina coach Alan LeForce said.
Winthrop did not get to the free throw line once.
It may be the first time in Childers' 760-game career he has had a team fail to take a single foul shot. Coastal was whistled for one foul in the first half and just five for the game.
Winthrop plays at 7 p.m. on Monday against Big South-leading High Point.