Winthrop's Maura Dorr scored 16 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in the Vikings tournament win over Bedford. (Spenser R. Hasak)

Winthrop defense gets the job done in Tournament win over Bedford

WINTHROP -- Defense was the name of the game for the Winthrop girls basketball team in the first round of the Division 3 North state tournament. The No. 6 Vikings never trailed and held off a late push by visiting No. 11 Bedford to earn a 43-34 win on Chris Tsiotos court Monday.

"As soon as we knew we had Bedford, the assistant coaching staff all day long (Sunday) and this past weekend found tape and started breaking it down," Winthrop coach Joe Lowe said. "And then it was just a credit to the players for executing defensively.

"We're not the best shooting team in the world, but our girls are just gritty," Lowe said. "I give all the credit to them. We went to a man defense that we thought was our best chance so that's what we rolled with for the most part."

Maura Dorr (16 points, 10 rebounds) paced Winthrop with a double-double while Caroline Earl (10 points, nine rebounds) wasn't far behind. Freshmen Maddie Stiglets (seven points, six rebounds) also had a standout game while Julia Marccocio (four points) led the defense.

"Earl hasn't been feeling well the last few days," Lowe said. "Her stomach was killing her (Monday) so we were kind of worried about her. She just showed up. Lily Pulsifer (six points) got us started early with two big 3-pointers and for a freshman, Maddie handled the ball well under pressure. 

"Julia, nobody probably even realizes because she doesn't really show up with points, but she just locks down the other teams best players," Lowe said. "She's done it all year and it paid off."

Both teams struggled to get on the board in the first quarter but Pulsifer's pair of threes gave Winthrop a 8-4 edge heading into the second.

Earl got things going from there with a pair of free throws and an and one to help Winthrop go up 15-6 before a Bedford timeout. 

The break did the Buccaneers some good. Bedford went on an 8-1 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Sydney Poor and cut the Winthrop lead to just 16-14.

But the Vikings bounced back with Earl's jumper sandwiched between a pair of baskets by Dorr, giving Winthrop a 22-14 lead heading into the half. 

After a quick Bedford basket, Winthrop went on a 10-point run in third. Dorr scored seven points, including a 3-pointer and Stiglets knocked down another shot from beyond the arc to put the Vikings ahead 32-16.

Bedford wasn't ready to go quietly however. The Buccaneers cut the Winthrop lead all the way back down to six points later in the third, but once again Winthrop didn't panic and took back control.

"I could've done a better job calling timeouts and managing but I like to have a philosophy of letting them play through it," Lowe said. "A buddy of mine just told me I call the worst timeouts, but I do it on purpose sometimes to just play through it and that's kind of what happened in the third."

The Winthrop lead remained just above six points for most of the fourth quarter, with the Vikings leading 40-32 in the final minutes. From there, the defense forced three straight Bedford turnovers and Dorr hit three free throws to seal the win.

"We've lost close games and we've won close games this year," Lowe said. "I think playing some of the tougher teams we've played and being in situations where a lot of our games will be tied up late, that paid off (Monday)."

The Vikings travel to No. 3 Whittier Thursday night (7) for the Division 3 North quarterfinal.

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