CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team took an 87-74 loss to Winthrop in the Big South Championship game on Sunday at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C. HPU will advance to the Women’s NIT with first round games being held March 19-21.
“As always, I am proud of this team,” said head coach DeUnna Hendrix. “We accomplished a lot this season, certainly more than most people expected. This is a special group of young women and I can’t wait to compete with them in the WNIT. Winthrop is talented, we all knew that entering the game. To only force them to turn the ball over 11 times isn’t High Point basketball. We didn’t get out in transition which is how we run our offense.”
Stacia Robertson posted her ninth double-double of the season with team highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Latrice Phelps scored 14 points for HPU. Winthrop’s Dequesha McClanahan had game highs of 24 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
HPU’s Robertson and Kaylah Keys were named to the Big South All-Tournament team along with Winthrop’s McClanahan and Erica Williams and Coastal Carolina’s Angelica Henry. McClanahan was named Tournament MVP.
With the loss, High Point went to 22-10 overall while Winthrop improved to 24-9. High Point won the Big South regular season for the second time with a 16-4 record in league play.
It will be High Point’s third trip to the Women’s NIT. HPU also went to the WNIT in 2006-07 and 2011-12. The WNIT selection show is Monday, March 17.
Winthrop earned its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.
High Point used a 10-0 run to take a 16-9 lead early in the first half. Lindsay Puckett started the run with a three from the right corner and Robertson made two free throws to cap it with 12:50 on the clock. The Panthers took their biggest lead of the half, 24-16, when DeAnneisha Jackson sank both her free throws with 10:07 on the clock. Tiffany Charles provided her usual spark off the Winthrop bench, scoring five-straight Eagle points to cut High Point’s lead to 26-21 at 7:03.
McClanahan briefly gave Winthrop a 29-28 lead with two good free throws but High Point went right back inside to Phelps and Jackson for a layup and the 32-29 lead. The Eagles finished the half on a 9-0 run, including a three-pointer by Samiya Wright to take a 42-39 lead in to halftime.
High Point tied the game five times in the first four minutes of the second half but could not take the lead. The Eagles broke a 52-52 tie on a jumper by Wright and it sparked a 10-2 run for the Eagles to give them the lead for the duration. Winthrop pushed it to double digits with 11:10 to play when Wright laid the ball in for a 71-61 lead and went on to win the game 87-74.