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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team scored 18 unanswered points to open its home opener and cruised to a 90-36 victory over Hiwassee College at The Hodge Center in non-conference action.
The Spartans (1-1) get back on track and pick up their first victory of the season, while the Tigers fall to 1-5 on the year.
"I thought it was a good game for us," head coach Eddie Payne said. "Our big focus was not to play the scoreboard and play each possession and I thought we did that well."
Torrey Craig opened the game red hot, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers in the first two minutes to give Upstate a 6-0 lead. Ty Greene pushed the lead to double digits two minutes later when he stepped to the free throw lined and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe to hand Upstate a 13-0 edge.
The Spartans would score the game's first 18 points, capped by a three-pointer from Adrian Rodgers, before Hiwassee finally got on the board at the 13:37 mark when Jeff Golden rattled home a layup to make it 18-2.
Bruce Haynes caught fire midway through the opening period, draining four of his five three-point attempts for 12 first-half points.
Upstate led by as many as 44 points in the first half, a margin created by a Mario Blessing layup with three seconds left on the clock to send the Spartans to the intermission with a 59-15 advantage.
The Upstate offense continued to pour it on in the second half as the lead swelled to as many as 54 with 3:52 remaining on a layup by Ricardo Glenn to make it 85-31. Rodgers would score the final three points of the game for the Spartans as the crowd was greeted with a 90-36 victory to open the home portion of the 2012-13 slate.
"Sometimes it is hard to play well when you are way ahead," Payne said. "I thought we did a pretty good job staying focused throughout the game."
Five players finished in double figures for Upstate led by 16 points, four rebounds and three assists from Craig. Haynes' 15 points set a new career-high for the sophomore who finished 5-for-8 from long range in just 16 minutes of action.
Rodgers added 15 points and four assists, while Greene tallied 11 points and Glenn rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10.
The Spartans shot over 50 percent from the field for the second straight game, going 34-for-61 for 55.7 percent, while knocking down a dozen three-pointers in 24 attempts.
"If we keep practicing like we have been the last few days and continue to build our offense and be aggressive on defense I think we will be fine," Torrey Craig said.
What could be the toughest stretch of games this season stares the Spartans in the face as they will play six straight games away from home in a 16-day span.
"Now the hard part starts," Payne said. "We go to San Antonio to play a veteran team that won 20 games last year and then to play a much-improved Santa Clara team. Our schedule and the challenges ahead will be formidable."
Upstate will start the stretch Saturday afternoon, taking on Texas San Antonio at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Spartans will then travel to California for three games against Santa Clara, Eastern Washington and Utah Valley as part of the 2012 CBE Hall of the Fame Classic.