WINTHROP — Playing it's third game in four nights, Mt. Abram knew it had very little fuel left for Friday night's MVC matchup with Winthrop. The Roadrunners just needed to make sure they made the most of what was left in the tank.
Mt. Abram raced out to an 18-point lead in the first half and held off a win-starved Winthrop team in the second half for a 37-32 victory.
Miranda Smith tallied a game-high 13 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late to lead the Roadrunners (2-2). Mikayla Luce added nine points and Jill Howard six points, six rebounds and five steals. Catherine Ouellette, playing her first game of the season after returning from a back injury, led the Ramblers (0-4) with 12 points off the bench.
"That's our third game in four nights and our legs are gone. We had nothing tonight," said Mt. Abram coach Doug Lisherness, who picked up career victory No. 312. "What little bit we had, we spent it in that first quarter."
The Roadrunners spent it wisely, though, by pounding the ball inside to Smith, who had eight points in the quarter while building a 14-5 lead. Nineteen first-half turnovers by the Ramblers helped inflate the margin to 25-7 on a Staci Plog putback with 3:33 left in the half.
Winthrop whittled the deficit down to 11 by halftime, then settled down at both ends of the floor in the third quarter.
"The big difference was having our point guard Ouellette back," Winthrop coach Lonney Steeves said. "We were a lot more organized. It was funny because even with her off the floor, we played better. We stayed organized defensively. We rebounded very well tonight."
Defense and rebounding limited Mt. Abram to just two points in the third quarter, coming on a nice feed from Smith to Annie Dexter inside. Winthrop defended the post well the rest of the way, and Ouellette's drive to the hoop pulled the Ramblers within five heading into the fourth.
"Alyssa Arsenault, Kelsey Stoneton and Lilly Beauregard all did an outstanding job making them receive it where they don't want to catch it and making those shots a little bit harder," Steeves said. "I think that might have been the biggest change in the game."
"I really should give them credit for that but I really felt our fatigue was responsible for a lot of that," said Lisherness, who in pre-game was presented a plaque by Steeves commemorating his last visit to Winthrop before retiring at the end of the season. "We were very fortunate to win that game"
Winthrop pulled to within two points wion a Ouellette bucket and Jessica Scott (nine points) free throw. Scott then went down with an apparent knee injury trying to chase down a pass near the baseline. The Ramblers closed to within two again with 1:33 remaining, but Mt. Abram made just enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
"The last two minutes of the game I had a senior, a junior, a sophomore and two freshmen on the floor," Steeves said. "We're a year and four games since we won a game, so we're looking for small victories. You don't want to call a game like that a moral victory, but we can take a lot of positives out of this."