Spartans Battle Until the End, Fall at Dayton, 72-68
DAYTON, Ohio – Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) reached the 20-point plateau for the third straight game; however, five-plus minute drought in the second half proved to be the difference in the contest as Dayton claimed a four-point win Sunday inside the University of Dayton Arena.
At halftime, the two teams were deadlocked at 32, but Upstate (6-4) used a quick 5-0 spurt to take a 37-32 lead with 18:49 to play. Mario Blessing (Kusterdingen, Germany) connected on a three-pointer from the wing and Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) connected on his lay-up to give the Spartans the five-point lead.
The Spartans maintained the lead until Dayton's (7-3) Kevin Dillard scored on a fast break layup to put the Flyers in front 45-44 with 13:59 to play.
The two teams continued to battled and forth and Upstate took a one-point lead, 54-53 when Craig sank a three-pointer with 8:03 to play.
Dayton regained the lead, 55-54, when Devin Oliver grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on his lay-up attempt. Oliver's basket was the 11th and final lead change of the contest.
The Flyers pushed the lead to seven (61-54) on a pair of Chris Johnson free throws with 3:57 to play.
Craig ended a 5:36 Spartan drought with a jumper in the paint to cut the deficit to five (61-56) with 3:27 left in the contest.
Dayton took its largest lead of the contest, nine (69-60), when Devin Oliver sank two free throws.
The Spartans quickly cut into the Flyer lead, trailing by just three (69-66) with 26 seconds to go. Craig started the spurt with a three-pointer and Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) picked the pocket of Josh Benson and connected on his lay-up and free throw attempt.
With his ninth and final field goal of the contest, Craig trimmed Dayton's lead to two with five seconds remaining. Dayton's Paul Williams made both of his free throws with three seconds to play, setting the final margin at 72-68.
"Dayton is a very good basketball team, but I feel we did a very good job today," said head coach Eddie Payne. "Our players followed our game plan today, we had some break downs late in the second half on ball screens that hurt us. Other than those miscues, we were able to get decent shots without turning the ball over when we got behind."
"I give Upstate a lot of credit on their style and they play very hard." said Dayton head coach, Archie Miller. "They made it very difficult on us to try to get into any type of rhythm today. We made a bit of run late that helped us earn the win, but make no mistake, today was a hard fought win."
Craig, who sank a season-best nine field goals, paced the Spartans with 21 points and seven rebounds. Dayton's Devin Oliver (12 points) led a group of five Flyers that reached double figures Sunday.
In the first half, the Spartans owned the largest lead of the period, five points. Upstate took a 13-8 with 13:08 to play on Babatunde Olumuyiwa's (Athens, Ga.) lay-up. During the first 20 minutes of action, there were a total of three ties and eight lead changes.
Upstate will close out the Ohio portion of its 10-day road trip Wednesday night at No. 2 Ohio State. The Spartans/Buckeyes contest is slated to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. and will be aired on the Big Ten Network.