Spartans Hold Off Ospreys, Wallace Reigns as Three-Point Queen
Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate jumped out to a 20-point lead in the second half and watched as North Florida cut the lead to four late in the game, but the Spartans steadied the ship and held on for a 78-65 victory over the Ospreys Monday night in A-Sun women's basketball action in the Hodge Center. Upstate's Kendra Wallace also took sole possession of the school's all-time three-point shooting record along the way.
Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va.) entered the game tied with Stephanie Feyes for the all-time record at Upstate, having made 169 in her career. She nailed a three-pointer with 2:36 to play in the first half to grab the record all by herself. She finished the night with three treys and now has 172 in her career as the all-time record holder.
Upstate improved to 14-11 overall and 10-6 in the A-Sun with the win. The Spartans will travel to Nashville, Tenn., this weekend to take on Belmont on Saturday and Lipscomb on Monday. UNF fell to 11-14 overall and 9-7 in the league with the loss.
Upstate honored three seniors prior to the start of the game as Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.), Kimberly Pitman (Plumtree, N.C.) and Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C.) were honored for their service to the program. McMillan had a standout game, finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season. Wadelington totaled seven points, while Pitman grabbed a rebound.
"I think it was great for our seniors," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "All three have meant so much to the program and I am really proud of them."
Both teams struggled to get things going early on, but Upstate hit its stride midway through the first half to vault into the lead. There were five ties and four lead changes alone in the first half of play.
After UNF's Juliemay Syquio hit a jumper to tie the game at 15-15, Upstate went on a 6-0 spurt and an 11-2 run to open a 26-17 lead with 1:21 to play before halftime. The Spartans would go into the intermission with a 26-19 lead.
North Florida came out in the second half and used a 5-0 run to cut the Upstate lead to one, 26-25, with 18:37 to play in the game, but Upstate quickly countered. The Spartans pushed the lead to 10 with a 13-4 run and increased the margin to 20 with 10:07 to play in the game.
Just when it looked like Upstate was firmly in control of the game, UNF made a run at the Spartans. Upstate held a 15-point advantage with 6:23 to play, but UNF went on a quick 15-4 run to cut the Upstate lead to four, 66-62, with 3:51 remaining.
Upstate answered, though, with a 9-0 run to increase its advantage to 13 with 1:45 to play and went on for the 13-point win.
"I thought our defense was pretty good tonight. I thought we did a good job of keeping the ball out of Kirkland's hands and made other people make plays," said George. "We lost Kerr a few times and she made some shots. But, I thought we kept our composure and made some key free throws down the stretch to pull out the win."
Upstate shot 37 percent from the floor, but connected on just 5-of-21 from the three-point arc. The Spartans did a good job of getting to the free throw line and converting, hitting 25-of-31 from the stripe. UNF shot 43 percent from the floor, 29 percent from the arc and made just 8-of-13 from free throw line.
Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in a solid all-around performance for Upstate. Wallace finished with 11 points and five boards.
Jadhken Kerr led the way for UNF, finishing with 21 points and three rebounds. Taylor Smith added 14 points and three steals for the Ospreys.