The Blue Hose rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the fourth quarter to just one point with a minute to play, but Winthrop used clutch free throws the final 30 seconds to come away with the 62-54 win over the Presbyterian College women’s basketball team in Big South action Saturday afternoon at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C. Salina Virola led the Blue Hose with a 21 points, just one shy of her career-best 22.
Scoring the Game
The Blue Hose came out strong in the first quarter, with Shamani Stafford and Salina 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, 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, 1:45 left. A Gibbs basket at 1:22 ended the scoring drought for PC, putting the home team back ahead. The Eagles closed out the final minute and a half with three straight to head to the locker room leading 26-24.
A back and forth battle for most of a third quarter that saw four ties, Winthrop led the majority of it but was unable to gain a foothold until the final three minutes. The Eagles hit eight unanswered, which included six from Anika Riley, to close out the third with their largest lead of the game at eight, 44-36. Salina 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., 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 for the 62-54 win.
Players of the Game
Salina Virola led the Blue Hose with 21 points and eight rebounds. She was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Shamani Stafford paced the team with 14 points. Jah’Che Whitfield led Winthrop with 16 points and nine rebounds, with Anika Riley behind her with 12 points.
Stats of the Game
Neither team shot exceptionally well in the first half, with PC holding the slight 38.1% to 35.5% edge in shooting percentage. The Eagles shot 50% in the second half to finish the game with 41.5%. PC ended with 35.6% from the field. PC held the rebounding advantage, 34-28. Turnovers were a key, with PC posting 24, compared to 13 for the Eagles. Winthrop took advantage in points off turnovers, 21-11.
- Salina Virola’s 21 points were just one shy of her career-high.
- Salina Virola’s 10 free throws made and attempted were career-highs, her 10-for-10 mark tying a PC Division I record.
For the Record
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, Tuesday, Feb. 12, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m., and broadcast live on ESPN+.