WINTHROP — Nearly every basket that Winthrop or Monmouth scored came with a certain amount of pain.

This Mountain Valley Conference girls basketball game was a lesson in physicality, with the roughed-up Ramblers coming out on top in this knock-down, neighboring-rival affair with a 49-39 victory on Monday night.

The fourth quarter was just a matter of the Ramblers (6-0) holding on to their lead in the end. They held the Mustangs (3-3) to two field goals in the final period, while connecting on a trio of 3-pointers in their own offensive end.

“We started off slow,” Winthrop coach John Baehr said. “The biggest thing I liked is how the girls responded to that slow start. We battled back defensively and that got us going offensively.

“The Mustangs are a good team. The point guard (Kaitlyn Frost) is very good. (Holly Hunt) is a very good player. Grace Levesque is a great post player. They are going to turn some heads this year — if they already haven’t.”

Winthrop senior guard Bella Littler scored the team-high 13 points, including one of those 3s, while Monmouth’s Frost dropped in the game-high 17. Frost connected on one of those two made field goals in the fourth and added three free throws in the frame.


Baehr said Morgan Fichthorn (11 points) did the small things like boxing out, rebounding and solid passing, but Fichthorn said the physical demands of the game were also quite memorable.

“Yeah, I would say it was physical,” Fichthorn said. “We just played good all around. We played good offensively and defensively. We didn’t get that many turnovers, which is good, and we forced them to get some turnovers. We are getting better on our halfcourt defense. Monmouth is good; they really pushed us tonight.”

The first quarter was just a preview of a game that turned physical on a dime. For nearly three minutes, Monmouth led 7-2, but Winthrop made a quick comeback in the last two minutes of the quarter.

The Ramblers tied it on senior forward Rhyan Sawlivich’s two points from under the basket, making it 7-7. Sophomore guard Madeline Wagner (10 points) sank two foul shots and Littler landed a 3-pointer and Winthrop headed into the second quarter with a 12-9 lead. Frost scored six of the Mustangs’ nine points.

The Ramblers carried their first-quarter momentum into the second and built a sizable lead before the Mustangs cut it down to five points. But sophomore guard Ella Rice sank two points and then turned it into a three-point play from the free throw line. Rice’s three points put Winthrop ahead 27-19 going into the second half.

Winthrop continued to hold the upper hand in the third quarter, and at one point, built a 36-25 lead on another Littler 3-pointer and Fichthorn’s two points inside the key.

However, the Mustangs climbed back into the contest after senior guard Hunt scored a buzzer-beating layup to make it a 38-31 game.

Hunt backed up Frost’s scoring effort with nine points of her own. For Winthrop, Fichthorn (11 points) and Wagner (10) joined Littler in double figures.

“I liked that we played our game and we worked hard even when things weren’t going our way,” Monmouth coach Molly Menice said. “We just kept adjusting and pushing through. (Winthrop) is very aggressive, very athletic and they kind of lean on that a lot … so that’s what makes it physical.”

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