FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team continued its success at home Saturday evening, using a big second half to pull away from Jacksonville University and defeat the Dolphins 79-64 inside the Hodge Center in A-Sun action.
The Spartans (11-10, 5-3 A-sun) improve to 6-2 on the year inside the Hodge Center, while the Dolphins (11-11, 6-3 A-Sun) fall for the first time in five games and squander a chance to extend their lead in the A-Sun standings.
"I was really pleased, this was the second good defensive game in a row for us," said USC Upstate Head Coach Eddie Payne. "I thought we did a solid job in all areas defensively and when you do that you have a pretty good chance to win."
The Dolphins jumped out in front early as they scored the first three points of the game, but it was the Spartans that came roaring back, using a 15-2 run over next three minutes to race out to a double-digit lead at 15-5. Ty Greene caught fire during the stretch, scoring 11 of those 15 points and capping the run with a three-point play the old fashioned way with 15:37 left in the half.
Jacksonville slowly chipped away at the lead over the next 12 minutes and finally regained the lead with 3:11 remaining when Jeremy Bogus broke out in transition for an easy bucket to give the Dolphins a 32-31 edge.
Upstate would go on another run however, this time riding the post players into intermission as Ricardo Glenn and Jodd Maxey fueled a 7-2 run, capped by a pair of free throws from Glenn to give the Spartans a 38-34 lead heading to the break.
Upstate came out with a renewed focus in the opening minutes of the second, clamping down on defense and holding the Dolphins to just three points in the first five minutes of the period. Meanwhile on offense, the Spartans were clicking on all cylinders as they used a 14-3 run to race out to a 15-point lead at 52-37 with 15:01 left.
"We made an emphasis to be more help oriented in the second half than we already were in the first half," said Payne. "We did a much better time in the second half of closing off the driving lanes. They had a harder time getting to the basket off the bounce so that was the major point of emphasis coming out of the break."
The Spartans never let up at either end of the court as they would retain a double-digit lead the remainder of the contest and extend the lead to a game-high 21 points off an Adrian Rodgers layup with less than two minutes to play.
A three-pointer at the buzzer from Dylan Fritsch proved to be just one of two made attempts from long range all night for the Dolphins as the Spartans picked up the 15-point victory at home. Upstate has now won 19 of its last 22 games inside the Hodge Center and sit at 6-2 at home this season with both losses coming by a combined three points. The Spartans hold a +16.5 scoring margin at home in eight games this season.
Greene continued his torrid pace in A-Sun play, scoring a career-high 24 points on a 7-for-12 performance from the field. He also added five rebounds and two steals in the win.
Torrey Craig tallied the only double-double of the night and did so quietly, scoring a dozen points and adding 11 defense rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Rodgers finished in double figures for the eighth time this season, scoring 14 points on an impressive 7-for-9 shooting performance.
Maxey was the only other Upstate player in double figures, scoring 11 points and adding seven rebounds, while Glenn finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Maxey also extended his league-lead in blocked shots, adding two more and bringing season total to 11.
Four Jacksonville players ended the game in double figures, led by 12 points from Glenn Powell and Keith McDougald. The Dolphins managed to knock down just two of 12 three-point attempts to finish 16.7 percent from behind the arc. The Spartans have held their opponents to 6-for-41 (.127) shooting from long range in the last two games.
With three A-Sun teams sitting at 6-3 on the season in league play, Upstate finds itself just a game back in the win column from tying the leaders atop the conference standings.
The Spartans will look to continue their success Monday evening when they welcome ETSU to town for another A-Sun contest. Tip-off against the Buccaneers is slated for 7:30 p.m. in the Hodge Center and will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN3.