FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team ran full force into the hottest team in the Atlantic Sun Conference Saturday evening, as Florida Gulf Coast University used a huge second half to win its sixth straight game and take down the Spartans 74-49 inside Alico Arena on ESPN3.
The Spartans (13-13, 7-6 A-Sun) drop their third straight game and fall to 3-3 in conference road games, while the Eagles (18-8, 10-3 A-Sun) improve to 13-1 at home this season and win their eighth game in 12 tries in the all-time series with Upstate.
Trailing by six at intermission, the Spartans came out and quickly cut that lead in half in the opening minutes of the second period, but that would be all the good news for Upstate, as FGCU rallied behind a raucous crowd of nearly 4,000 and scored 43 points over the final 20 minutes to secure the victory.
The Eagles were clicking on all cylinders and capitalized on every Upstate miscue, turning 21 turnovers into 25 points the other way to hand the Spartans their worst loss of the season.
Sherwood Brown led the charge for FGCU, scoring 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field, while Bernard Thompson and Eddie Murray tallied 10 points apiece.
Ricardo Glenn scored a season-high 17 points for Upstate and finished a rebound shy of a double-double in 31 minutes of action. Ty Greene was the only other Spartan to finish in double figures, adding 11 points and four rebounds.
The Spartans showed signs of breaking out of their slump in the opening period when Torrey Craig pulled away from the pack and quieted the crowd with a thunderous fast break dunk, giving Upstate a 17-13 lead with 8:26 left in the first half.
FGCU would take over from there, scoring 14 unanswered points, capped by a pair of free throws from DaJuan Graf to create the first double-digit lead of the day and give the Eagles a 27-17 advantage.
Just when it looked like FGCU would pull away, the Spartans weathered the storm when Craig connected on a pair of free throws and Greene drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead right back down to five at 27-22.
After trading buckets in the final minute, Bernard Thompson hit a jumper as the first-half buzzer sounded, giving FGCU a six-point lead at 31-25 heading to intermission. The Eagles led by as many 26 points at two different times late in the second half before picking the 25-point victory.
The Spartans will regroup and turn their attention to next Thursday and a matchup with Mercer University inside the Hodge Center. A special 9 p.m. tip-off against the Bears will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN3.