By Carey Phillips
Destinee Jamison-Whitfield scored 20 points, and Winthrop held off a late Western Carolina rally for a 63-60 non-conference women’s basketball victory Dec, 20 at the Ramsey Center.
Jah’Che Whitfield netted 14 points for the Lady Eagles.
Jewel Smalls led the Lady Cats (2-11) with 23 points.
Lauren LaPlant, who was recently named Southern Conference Student-Athlete of the Week, added 16 points. After missing the entire 2018-19 season due to a knee injury, LaPlant is averaging 10.5 points per game. She graduated summa cum laude with a 3.917 grade-point average and a degree in chemistry in December. She has been accepted into graduate school at Western.
With Smalls and Judith Martin-Ruiz hitting three--pointers, WCU jumped in front 10-2 with 6:31 to play in the first quarter. Smalls scored five in a 9-2 spurt for a 22-9 lead on Martin-Ruiz’s basket with 1:09 on the clock.
The score was 22-12 at the quarter break.
Maleeah Langstaff scored four in a 12-3 spurt as Winthrop closed within 25-24 on Whitfield’s three-pointer at the 5:30 mark.
Jamison-Whitfield’s basket gave the Lady Eagles their first lead, 30-28, with 1:59 on the clock. Her three-pointer with 32 seconds left made it 33-28 at halftime.
She hit a trio of three--pointers giving Winthrop a 44-28 advantage with 3:42 left in the third period.
The largest lead was 50-33 after Marissa Cantrell’s two foul shots with 41 seconds to go, and the margin was 50-35 entering the fourth quarter.
Western got back in contention as Smalls’ two three-pointers sparked a 10-1 run narrowing the gap to 55-51 at the 3:55 mark.
Her layup brought the Lady Cats within 59-56 with 31 seconds to go.
Jamison-Whitfield hit five of eight free throws down the stretch, and Western missed a desperation three-pointer that would have tied it at the buzzer.
The Lady Eagles shot 44 percent from the floor, and WCU made 43.4 percent of its attempts.
Whitfield’s seven rebounds helped Winthrop to a 33-30 edge on the boards. Smalls and Tembre Moates both had nine for the Lady Cats.
Western committed 16 turnovers, and the Lady Eagles had 11.
Completing the WCU scoring were Moates with eight, Judith Martin-Ruiz with seven, Alyssa Walker with four and Andrea Martin-Ruiz with two.