Winthrop falls short at No. 10 SoCarolina, 69-61

Winthrop coach Kevin Cook saw his players snoozing on the team

bus during the hour drive to South Carolina’s campus.

”Maybe we should’ve set the alarm for the tipoff,” he said

Friday.

Might’ve been a good idea because the Eagles (6-3) fell behind

14-0 less than five minutes in and eventually trailed by 19 in the

opening half of a 69-61 defeat at No. 10 South Carolina during a

matinee game on Friday.

”In the end, we just spotted them too much. We got down 19 and

doggone it, if we had the first seven minutes to play over again,”

Cook said. ”Can we do that, guys? I guess there’s no redos. That’s

the way it goes.”

Dequesha McClanahan and Erica Williams had 19 points each to

lead the Eagles. Taylor Calvert added 11 points of 4 of 5

shooting.

Winthrop of the Big South Conference made a spirited comeback in

the second half, rallying to trail 61-57 on Schquilla Nunn’s put

back of a missed shot with 3:30 left. That’s where the Eagles’ run

stalled, in large part because of an offensive foul, her fifth,

called on the team’s leading scorer McClanahan with under three

minutes left.

”Yeah, that call could’ve went either way. I wish she’d have

been shooting free throws,” Cook said. ”But (the officials) did a

good job officiating the game. The bottom line was we just dug too

deep a hole.”

South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell scored 20 points, including a

crucial basket to thwart Winthrop’s late charge. On Wednesday

night, Mitchell struggled along with her teammates in going 4 for

13 from the floor in a 74-66 loss to No. 14 North Carolina, the

first defeat of the season for the Gamecocks (10-1).

Mitchell was on target against the Eagles, though, making 7 of 9

field goals. Four of those were 3-pointers, including one where she

got fouled and converted the free throw for a four-point play.

Her basket late in the game helped the Gamecocks increase the

lead to eight points. The Eagles could get no closer than five

points the rest of the way.

”I think (coach Dawn Staley) is most comfortable when we need

big shots to put the ball in my hand,” said Mitchell, a 5-foot-9

sophomore guard. ”Not necessarily to have me shooting the ball,

but to get people open as well.”

The Gamecocks looked like they’d make easy work of Winthrop in

the noon game, rushing out to a 14-0 lead in front of grade-school

children on holiday break. Instead, Winthrop rallied back.

”I actually think we relaxed a little bit on them and they came

and slapped us in the face,” Tiffany Davis said. ”Kind of

unexpected.”

Williams’ jumper with 4:34 left drew Winthrop to 59-55. Mitchell

then added a bucket to increase South Carolina’s lead.

Schaquilla Nunn’s put-back brought Winthrop within four points

before Asia Dozier’s two foul shots and Mitchell’s jumper extended

the margin to 65-57 with 1:55 to play.

While the Gamecocks held a strong height advantage, Winthrop did

its best to keep up. The Eagles had as many offensive boards as

South Carolina in the opening half and just one more turnover (10)

than their opponents.

Winthrop forced the Gamecocks into a season-high 20

turnovers.