Upstate Survives Scare At Mercer
Macon, Ga. – Chelsea McMillan recorded her fourth-straight double-double and came up big in the second half as Upstate fought off an upset bid from Mercer to take a 70-64 victory in A-Sun women's basketball action Wednesday night in the University Center.
Upstate improved to a perfect 4-0 record in the A-Sun and 7-5 overall. The Spartans are tied atop the league with Florida Gulf Coast. Mercer fell to 1-12 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead Upstate. She accounted for 15 points and 13 rebounds in the second half as Mercer took control of the game and the Spartans fought back for the win.
"We just gutted this one out," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "We struggled against the zone and turned the ball over way too much. We lost our cushion in the second half, but we battled. We kept our toughness and found a way to win."
When McMillan converted a layup with 18:30 to play in the game, Upstate led by 10. Mercer then went on a 12-1 run to take the lead with 13:32 to play. Upstate went back on top on a McMillan layup, but the Bears countered with a 5-0 spurt to open a four-point lead.
Sharnea Boykin hit a jumper with 7:32 to play to put Mercer up by five for the first of three times the remainder of the contest. The Bears continued to lead by five with 5:44 remaining when Upstate battled back.
Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C.) made a pair of free throws and Madisen Webb (Georgetown, Ky.) converted a conventional three-point play to tie the game at 60-60 with 3:35 to play. McMillan nailed a pair of tosses from the charity stripe to tie the game at 62-62. After falling behind by one, Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) made a pair of free throws to give Upstate a 64-63 lead with 2:20 left. The Spartans would not trail again.
McMillan made a layup and a free throw to give the Spartans a three-point advantage and McRoberts made 3-of-4 from the line down the stretch to seal the win. Upstate did not allow Mercer to score in the last 1:25 of the game.
While most of the Spartans found it difficult to score in the second half, McMillan put the Spartans on her back. She scored 11 points in the final 12:31 to help keep the Spartans in the game and pull out the win in the end.
"Chelsea is a battler," said George. "She is always going to stay with it, stay in the game. She stepped up big for us."
It looked good early for Upstate as the Spartans made three of its first four shots from the field and opened a seven-point lead with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half. The Spartans led by as many as eight at the 6:20 mark, but Upstate went cold from the field over the next three minutes. Mercer exploited Upstate's inability to score and fought back to tie the game at 29-29 with 3:53 to play in the half.
Wadelington paced Upstate in the first half and scored five unanswered points and came up with s steal that led to a layup by Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va.) as Upstate opened a five-point advantage, 36-31 at halftime. Wadelington finished the half with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Upstate finished the game shooting 34 percent from the field. The Spartans were just 5-of-23 from the three-point arc as Mercer clogged the middle and forced Upstate to outside shots. Upstate was just 2-of-3 from the free throw line in the first half, but finished 17-for-26 for the game.
Mercer shot 38 percent from the field and 21 percent from the three-point arc. The Bears were 11-of-20 from the free throw line.
Wadelington finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds and six steals as the second-leading scorer for Upstate. McRoberts also reached double figures with 12 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. Wallace and Webb each added eight points for the Spartans.
Briana Williams finished the game with 19 points to lead Mercer. Britnee Hazel added 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.