Aliyah Kilpatrick connected on two free throws with six seconds left in the game to lift Winthrop to a 63-62 come-from-behind Big South road win and a season sweep over Longwood on Tuesday night.
Winthrop dug itself out of a 12-point halftime deficit thanks to senior guard Samiya Wright’s second half spark off the bench and the inside scoring of Erica Williams and Schaquilla Nunn, both of whom recorded their ninth double-doubles of the season. Williams scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds while Nunn finished with 14 points and tied her career high with 17 boards.
The win was Winthrop’s third straight win, but proved much tougher than the 81-48 victory it enjoyed on Dec. 30 at home. The Eagles improve to 7-4 in league play and 11-9 overall as they began the second half of Big South play. Longwood falls to 3-8 and 3-17.
After digging itself in a 39-27 hole at intermission and allowing Longwood to shoot 57 percent from the floor, Winthrop came out of the locker room with a more intensive presence on the defensive end of the floor and Wright as an offensive force. Wright did not see action in the first half as she was resting a sore knee, but she started the second period and gave her team an instant lift by knocking down two jumpers to open the half and then swished a 3-pointer with 14:32 remaining to draw the Eagles to within four points at 42-38.
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“At halftime, the dumb coach in me, told the smart coach in me to get Samiya Wright in the game, and what a spark she gave us,” said Winthrop coach Kevin Cook. “Samiya just came out and blistered the nets for nine big second half points and got us going. After that, we just chipped away and chipped away and was able to get a hard-earned win. It was our inside game against their outside game. Give credit to Longwood. Coach (Ben) Reinson had them well-prepared.”
Winthrop outscored the Lancers 21-10 in the opening 9 minutes, 58 seconds of the second half and trimmed the deficit to a single point at 49-48 when Taylor Calvert sank two free throws. But Longwood’s Raven Williams responded with a layup and Brenna Robbins followed with a 15-footer to give the Lancers some breathing room at 53-48 with 8:37 left.
Wright answered with a 15 footer and Nunn made one of two free throws to start a 9-0 run that gave Winthrop a 57-53 lead with under five minutes left. Williams scored six straight points to give the Eagles the lead. She tied things at 53 all and 6:12 on the clock and then put Winthrop ahead on a pair of free throws with 5:25 remaining. Her pull-up jumper with 4:48 left gave the Eagles a 57-53 lead, but Deborah Headen cut the lead to two points with a jumper in the lane with 3:55 remaining.
Nunn answered with a layup off a pass from Williams to give Winthrop a four-point cushion at 59-55 and 1:29 left in the contest, but Longwood responded once again as Raven Williams drove for a layup and then Robbins nailed a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to put the Lancers up 60-59.
Kilpatrick then regained the lead for the Eagles at 61-60 on a left-handed drive with 33 seconds remaining. Longwood took the lead again when Headen was fouled underneath the basket and made both free throws with 15 seconds left.
Winthrop called timeout and designed the play for Kilpatrick to drive the ball to the basket. She was fouled hard with six seconds remaining and went to the line where she hit both for the winning margin.
The game started out as though Winthrop would have an easy night of it as the Eagles took a 9-5 lead 5 minutes, 40 seconds into the game on back-to-back baseline jumpers by Erica Williams, but Longwood responded with an 11-0 run over the next 2:53 to go ahead 16-9. Three of the Lancers first four field goals were from behind the 3-point arc.
The Eagles got to within three points as they put together a 12-8 run to pull to within 24-21 on another baseline jumper by Williams with 6:31 left in the first half. But over the final six minutes, Longwood outscored Winthrop 15-6 behind the play of Raven Williams, who had six of those points, and two more 3-pointers from Kyndal Skersick with under a minute left and another by Jaclyn Reagan just before the buzzer to send the Lancers to intermission with the 12 point lead.