DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Winthrop kept itself in every game this season, hanging tough with eventual No. 1 seed South Carolina and knocking off perennial Big South heavyweight Liberty.
Once they got to their first NCAA tournament, though, the Eagles were no match for Duke.
Big South player of the year Dequesha McClanahan had 22 points but the Blue Devils routed the Eagles 87-45 on Saturday in the first round.
"Cinderella wanted a couple more dances," Winthrop coach Kevin Cook said, "but unfortunately, we've got to go back to Rock Hill (S.C.) and begin anew for next year."
Samiya Wright had 12 points for the 15th-seeded Eagles (24-9), whose previous worst loss was by 11 to Liberty.
They kept it within eight points against eventual No. 1 seed South Carolina — but had no answers for a Duke team that improved to 21-1 in tournament games at Cameron Indoor Stadium with 20 straight wins there.
"We're 0-1" in the tournament, Cook said. "But we'll be back."
Tricia Liston scored 20 points and freshman Oderah Chidom added a season-high 17 points for the second-seeded Blue Devils (28-6).
They didn't miss a beat in their first game in nearly two weeks: They never trailed, shot 54 percent and led by double figures for the final 33½ minutes in winning their 21st straight NCAA tournament opener.
Duke built a 49-23 rebounding advantage and held Winthrop to 27 percent shooting — 21 percent in the decisive first half — to advance in the Lincoln Regional bracket.
Referring to Duke's superior depth, especially in the low post, Cook said it "seemed like the French Foreign Legion to me.
Continue reading this story on the...