Winthrop vs. Longwood women’s basketball, 2/5/11

So what do you say about a basketball game in which neither team scored a field goal in the last 10 minutes?

Here’s the story I referenced in the previous post, seen here for the first time! I hope it’s as a good a read as it was fun to write. I tried to be fair and to call it as I saw it, without being overly critical.

After a rip-roaring start, the Winthrop women’s basketball team struggled to outlast the Longwood Lancers 54-46 Saturday night at Winthrop Coliseum.

But no matter how it looked, the bottom line for the Eagles (10-11) was the end of a three-game losing streak. And maybe a jump start before returning to Big South Conference play for a road-game-heavy schedule the rest of the way.

“We just had to stay focused and think about the win,” said sophomore forward Katie Fitzgerald, Winthrop’s only double-figures scorer with 11 points. “We really wanted to win tonight and we stayed together and didn’t go off and just play our own individual games.”

It didn’t come easy, even after the Eagles had built a 13-point halftime lead. Longwood (5-16), led by forward Chelsea Coward’s game-high 19 points, erased that 33-20 advantage with a 16-2 run in the first five minutes of the second half.

But Winthrop survived what could have been a knockout punch, and the rest of the game was a hard-fought, if ragged, battle, Neither team hit a shot from the field after Fitzgerald gave the Eagles a 47-40 lead on a three-pointer with 10:16 left in the game.

And the Eagles, who could’ve made things easier for themselves by hitting free throws, were 5-of-12 from the line in the last three minutes of the game.

“In February, you take any win you can get,” Winthrop coach Bud Childers said. “Our free-throwing wasn’t pretty and our three-point shots were nothing to write home about. But we played hard, and defensively it was one of our better games.”

The Eagles jumped out to a 21-9 lead in the first eight minutes and built their lead to as many as 18 points (33-15) in the final two minutes of the first half.

Fitzgerald, who had played only sparingly before Saturday’s game as she recovered from surgery on a dislocated thumb, scored eight of her 11 points in the first half. She also had five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

“It took a while, about six weeks, to get better,” she said. “It felt good to come back and just be who I am.”

The Lancers, one of the few Division I independents, grabbed their last lead of the game at the end of their big run to start the second half, going in front 36-35 with 14:22 left on Coward’s baseline jump shot.

Three-pointers by Fitzgerald and Lacey Lyons sparked a 14-4 run by Winthrop, which put the Eagles in front to stay.

“It’s tough to play non-conference games this time of year,” Childers said. “But it was just important for us to get a win. We lost some confidence last week, but we’re still hungry.”

NOTES: Six of the Eagles’ last eight regular-season games are on the road, including a stretch of four straight which starts on Saturday afternoon in Conway against Coastal Carolina. Winthrop doesn’t play another home game until a 4:30 p.m. game against High Point on Feb. 26.

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About theoldperfessor

I'm a college professor, teaching journalism and public relations classes at a small private university, and a freelance writer.
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