ROCK HILL, S.C. – It was a special reunion for the Gallaudet University women's basketball team and former head coach Kevin Cook on Saturday as the Bison paid a visit to Winthrop University to face Coach Cook and his Eagles in the season opener for both teams. The result wasn't in doubt as the Division I school overpowered Gallaudet, 117-43, before 1,276 but the experience was well worth the trip for the buff and blue.
Junior guard Zamica Gage (Washington, D.C.), who was recruited by Cook to Gallaudet, led the Bison (0-1) with 21 points as she made 7 of 22 shots from the field and grabbed seven rebounds, three assists and one steal.
"It was a privilege to play against Winthrop," said Gage. "My favorite part was when one of our girls would fall after a foul and the Winthrop players would help us up. It felt like we really earned their respect on the court and they showed great sportsmanship."
Cook spent four years at Gallaudet (2007-11) where he compiled a 47-56 (.456) record and was highlighted by the 2010-11 season when the Bison started the season 20-0, upset a nationally ranked team and in turn became ranked for the first time in a decade. GU earned an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament as the Bison garnered national media attention in the process. Cook earned Women's Basketball Coaches Association Region 3 Coach of the Year. Cook's graduate assistant during that season was Stephanie Stevens, now in her third season as Gallaudet's head coach.
"I love Zamica Gage. I recruited her and she can play at any level. Trust me on that one," said Cook, now in his third season as Winthrop's head coach. "Gallaudet is going to do a good job in their conference and I look for them to have a good year."
Winthrop's Schaguilla Nunn was a force to be reckon with as she scored a school-record 39 points (18 of 24), grabbed 16 rebounds, blocked nine shots and made five steals in 27 minutes of work. Ezinne Mbamalu came off the bench and scored 20 points while Samiya Wright (11 rebounds) and Erica Williams chipped in 17 points each. The Eagles (1-0) led 64-19 at halftime and outscored Gallaudet 53-24 in the second half. Winthrop won the Big South championship last year and made a NCAA tournament appearance.
"We played at a level today that will continue to motivate us throughout our season," said Stevens. "We were pleased to see the tremendous growth in our program while battling on the court for the entire 40 minutes. We are proud of our mighty Bison. This was a great way to prepare for our home opener and first conference game of the season this Wednesday."
Gallaudet returns home to host Penn College in a North Eastern Athletic Conference game at 6 p.m.
- Gallaudet offers Winthrop women more than just a win (Herald Online)
- Nunn scores school-record 39 points in win over Gallaudet (WinthropEagles.com)
Gallaudet head coach Stephanie Stevens catches up with former Bison head coach Kevin Cook prior to the game.