Clinton, S.C. – Chelsea McMillan recorded her second double-double of the season and Tee'Ara Copney turned up the defensive pressure late to lead USC Upstate to a 78-73 overtime victory at Presbyterian College Thursday night in the Templeton Center.
McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) finished the game with a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds to record her 24th career double-double. She also nailed a three-pointer with six seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime to lead the Spartans.
Upstate improved to 2-2 on the year and will have a quick turnaround, taking on A-Sun rival ETSU Saturday in the Spartans' home opener in the newly renovated Hodge Center. Tip time is set for 4:30 pm. Presbyterian College fell to 2-4 on the year with the loss.
Upstate shot 50 percent from the field for the game, but turnovers and foul trouble plagued the Spartans throughout the contest. Upstate finished the game with 30 turnovers and Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C.) and Madisen Webb (Georgetown, Ky.) each fouled out. However, Upstate managed to stay in the game and pulled out the win.
"I will take blame for the trouble we had on offense," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "Our defense has been bad lately, so we concentrated on that all week in practice. We really didn't get a lot of work on running our offense.
"Our kids stayed in there and battled, and found a way to win. I was really proud of them for their effort tonight."
It looked like it would be a long night for Upstate from the onset. The Spartans committed turnovers on their first two possessions and fell behind by seven early on. Upstate cut it to a point with 12:49 to play in the half, but Presbyterian College extended its lead back to five.
Although marred by turnovers and Wadelington and Copney (Asheville, N.C.) picking up three fouls each in the opening 20 minutes, Upstate fought back each time it fell behind. The Spartans rallied to tie the game at 27-27 with 40 seconds to play before halftime. Upstate took the lead on a pair of free throws by Wadelington before PC's Karlee Taylor converted a pair from the stripe to send the game tied at 29 at the break.
Upstate shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half, but committed 19 turnovers. Those turnovers led to 16 points for the Blue Hose.
Webb's jumper to start the second half gave Upstate a two-point lead before PC tied it with a jumper by Shonda Burnside. The Spartans went on a 5-0 spurt on a jumper by McMillan and a three-pointer from Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) to open a 36-31 lead. McRoberts got the start after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. She would come up huge for the Spartans in the game.
PC fought back and used a 17-2 run to open a 48-38 lead with 10:06 to play. As was the case in the first half, though, Upstate would not go away. Still trailing by 10 with 6:10 to play, the Spartans mounted their comeback.
McRoberts nailed back-to-back three-pointers to key an 8-0 Upstate run as the Spartans fought back to within two, 52-50, with 4:18 to play in regulation. After falling behind by four, Copney nailed a three-pointer to get the Spartans within one.
After Mariah Pietrowski converted a pair of free throws to give PC a 58-55 lead with 2:36 remaining, Upstate used a 4-0 run to take the lead. Freshman Kelci Freds (Warsaw, Ind.) nailed two free throws and Copney came up with a steal and layup to give the Spartans a 60-59 lead with 1:52 to play.
PC went back on top on a jumper from Burnside and made it a two-point game when Amanda Mills made 1-of-2 free throws. Freds then made a couple of key plays. She made 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to one, but hustled for the rebound after her miss and was fouled on the baseline. She made one of her two attempts to tie the game at 61-61 with 41 seconds to play.
PC looked to regain control of the game when Burnside converted a layup and was fouled on the play. She made her free throw to give the Blue Hose a 64-61 lead with 16 seconds left. Copney brought the ball up court and dished it off to Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va.) at the top of the key. With the defense hounding her, Wallace fed McMillan on the right wing and the senior nailed the three-pointer with six seconds to play to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In overtime, Burnside gave PC the advantage with 15-foot jumper. After an Upstate miss, Copney came up big again on the defensive end, picking Taylor and converting the layup to tie the game. PC took a two-point lead before McRoberts' tied the game at 69-69.
McMillan hit a jumper with 1:33 to play before Chelsea Parker tied the game with a layup for PC with 1:10 remaining. McMillan sank another short jumper to give Upstate a 73-71 lead with 58 seconds to play and the Spartans made five-of-six free throws down the stretch to take the win.
McRoberts finished the game with a season-high 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Spartan cause. Copney, who entered the game as the A-Sun's leading scorer, tallied 16 points and five steals.
Upstate finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and a respectable 38 percent from the arc. PC shot 42 percent from the field a solid 44 percent from the arc. Upstate finished with 30 turnovers, allowing the Blue Hose to 24 points off turnovers for the game. Upstate forced PC into 27 turnovers which led to 34 Upstate points.
Burnside led PC with 24 points and six rebounds. Dria David added 14 points and eight boards, while Taylor finished with 12 points and six assists.