Spartans Move to 8-4 in League Play with 70-58 Win at Kennesaw State
KENNESAW, Ga. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team led by as many as 16 and thwarted a late Kennesaw State rally as the Spartans picked up a 70-58 win Monday night inside the KSU Convocation Center.
"That was an important road win for us," said head coach Eddie Payne. "To come back after losing at Mercer and pick up our fourth conference road win of the season; it's always good to win on the road in league play. I was nervous about the game because they hadn't won an Atlantic Sun game yet. They (Kennesaw State) played very hard tonight and they battled tonight, but we were able to hold off their charge late in the second half as we grabbed rebounds and made our free throws."
Kennesaw State (3-22, 0-13) jumped out to an early 6-0 advantage just 2:02 into the contest. Markeith Cummings hit a three-pointer on the Owls' opening possession, while Brandon Dawson sank a jumper and a free throw.
Upstate (15-10, 8-4) got on the scoreboard when Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) completed a three-point play with 17:33 to play in the first half. Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) sank a lay-up as the Spartans trimmed the deficit to just one with 16:37 to play in the period.
After Cummings put KSU in front by three (8-5) with a pair of free throws, the Spartans used a 7-0 run to take a 12-8 lead with 13:14 on the clock. The Spartan run was highlighted by Jodd Maxey's (Statham, Ga.) fast break lay-up and Carter Cook's (Winston-Salem, N.C.) triple.
After the Owls cut the Upstate lead to two, Cook connected on his second straight three-pointer to give the Spartans a 15-10 lead with 12:20 left in the first half. Cook's triple jumpstarted a 14-4 run over a span of 4:02 as the Spartans owned a 26-14 lead with 8:18 to play.
The Owls were able to trim the Upstate lead to eight (27-19) with just over six minutes to play before the break, but the Spartans scored eight straight to take their largest lead of the contest, 16 (35-19) with 4:12 to play. The Spartans maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the half and carried a 39-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Owls, like they did in the first half, scored the first five points of the second half to trim the deficit to just six (39-33) with 15:53 to play.
Upstate quickly pushed the lead back to double-figures thanks to baskets by Craig and Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.). The Owls continued to battle, but were unable to draw any closer than six over the final 12 minutes and the Spartans led by double-digits for 4:13 of the final 4:18 as the squad picked up the 12-point victory to complete the regular-season sweep of the Owls.
Craig finished just short of a double-double as he posted 15 points and nine rebounds Monday night. Greene (14), Glenn (12) and Adrian Rodgers (Alpharetta, Ga.; 10) also reached double-figures in scoring in the contest. Meanwhile, Maxey grabbed nine rebounds to go along with six points and two blocks.
"Ricardo has probably been our most consistent player in terms of effort and toughness," Payne added. "He is beginning to assert himself in a very positive way as a leader. Torrey was very patient tonight in our offensive sets. He hit two big three pointers late, attacked the glass and didn't turn it over. In hindsight, this may have been his best game of the season."
Delbert Love led a quartet of Owls in double-figures as the KSU rookie tallied a game-high 19 points.
The Spartans shot 45.5% (25-55) from the floor and 77.8% (14-18) from the line, compared to KSU's marks of 36.4% (20-55) on field goals and 60.0% (12-20) from the charity stripe.
The Spartans led the way in rebounding (38-32), points in the paint (34-22), points off of turnovers (10-9), fast break scoring (6-4) and bench scoring (23-0). The Owls held a 19-13 advantage in second chance points.
Upstate will return to action Saturday afternoon when it hosts Jacksonville. Tip-off between the Spartans and the Dolphins is slated for 2 p.m.