Winthrop used clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds to come away with a 62-54 win over Presbyterian in women’s basketball played at Templeton Center on Saturday.
The Blue Hose rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the fourth quarter to just one point down with a minute to play. Salina Virola led the Blue Hose with 21 points, just one shy of her career best.
The Blue Hose came out strong in the first quarter, with Shamani Stafford and Virola hitting three-pointers in the opening five minutes to lead the home team to an 8-0 lead. PC continued its hot streak, opening up a 10-point, 14-4 lead, with under a minute to play. Destinee Jamison cut the margin to seven off Winthrop’s first three of the game with 32 seconds left, and the first quarter ended with the Blue Hose on top 14-7.
Four straight from PC to open the second gave the home team an 11-point lead, a minute and a half in, but it was all Winthrop the next four and a half minutes, holding PC without a basket en route to a 14-2 run that gave the Eagles the first lead of the game, 21-20, with 3:14 remaining before the half.
Two free throws by Bria Gibbs gave the Blue Hose back the lead, but Winthrop answered with two of their own to go back on top, 23-22, with1:45 left. A Gibbs basket at 1:22 ended the scoring drought for PC. The Eagles closed out the final minute and a half with three straight to head to the locker room leading 26-24.
In a back-and-forth battle for most of a third quarter that saw four ties, Winthrop led the majority but was unable to gain a foothold until the final three minutes. The Eagles hit eight unanswered points, which included six from Anika Riley, to close out the third with their largest lead of the game to that point, 44-36. Virola led the Blue Hose effort in the quarter, scoring eight of the team’s 12 points.
The Eagles built a 10-point, 48-38 lead, with 7:40 remaining in the game, but Virola hit a couple of free throws to cut the margin back to eight with seven minutes to go. Neither team scored over the next three and a half minutes, the drought ending off a three-pointer from Jah’Che at 3:39, putting the visitors ahead by 11, 51-40.
Stafford answered with a three of her own 20 seconds later, jumpstarting an 11-1 run to cut the margin to one, 52-51, 1:09 to go. Kem Nwabudu took the visitors up again by four off a layup and free throw, but another three from Stafford made it a one-point game again. That was as close as the Blue Hose would get as the Eagles hit seven free throws the final 30 seconds to survive.
PC moves to 4-18 overall and 2-9 in the Big South, while Winthrop improves to 10-12, 6-5.
The Blue Hose are next in action at UNC Asheville on Tuesday, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m., and broadcast live on ESPN+.