Top Three Transitional Moments: Women’s Basketball
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Four years ago, USC Upstate began a journey to join the NCAA Division I ranks and pending approval by the NCAA Board of Governors, Upstate will become an active member of D-I on Sept. 1, 2011. With the transitional phase nearly complete, the media relations office takes a look back at some of the top moments of the transitional phase, today's spotlight, women's basketball.
On July 1, the top 10 moments of the transition were compiled into an online web poll and thanks to the votes of Spartan fans, the final tally is in. Without any further ado, here are the top three moments of the transitional phase for Upstate women's basketball.
Moment No. 3
George Named A-Sun Coach of the Year
March 2, 2010
In a short amount of time, head women's basketball coach Tammy George has lifted the women's basketball program in contention atop the A-Sun Conference and following a 20-win season, was named the 2010 A-Sun Coach of the Year for her efforts in establishing the program as winners on the Division I level and turning in a tremendous season.
George had a special year on the sidelines for Upstate, reaching several milestones en route to her second career Coach of the Year honors. The Zirconia, N.C., native led Upstate to its first 20-win season since 1994-95, along the way becoming the fourth coach to win 50 games at Upstate and with the team's 79-72 win at Jacksonville on Feb. 1, she became the first coach in school history to win her 100th game while on the Spartans' sidelines.
Upstate, predicted to finish eighth in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches' Poll, even started the A-Sun season 0-3 before Coach George called a team meeting. In the ensuing hour and a half meeting, the team refocused on its goals and the result was an 85-78 win over conference champs, ETSU, the next day. From there, the team took a trip to Nashville, Tenn., and won the first games in school history, in any sport, at Belmont's Curb Event Center, and Lipscomb's Allen Arena. Another road weekend sweep occurred when Upstate won for the first time at the UNF Arena and at Jacksonville. Late in the season, George coached the team to its first win at Campbell. Perhaps the team's biggest win, though, was Upstate's 86-78 win over FGCU on Feb. 25, knocking the Eagles out of first place for the first time all season. George's Spartans beat every team in the A-Sun in 2009-10, won 60 percent of its games on the road and wrapped up the year on a torrid 13-3 run.
George became the fourth Upstate coach to earn Coach of the Year honors, joining Kim Buford, who earned the 1986 AWSF Southeast Region Coach of the Year award, and Tammy Holder (1991) and Peggy Sells (1993), who each won Peach Belt Coach of the Year awards.
Moment No. 2
McMillan Named A-Sun Player of the Year
March 1, 2011
A day after she hit a three-pointer with four seconds on the clock to beat Florida Gulf Coast in the regular season finale, USC Upstate senior post player Chelsea McMillan was named the A-Sun Player of the Year after ranking second in the conference in scoring and leading the league in rebounding.
McMillan, from East Gadsden, Fla., began the year with a target on her back after being named the preseason player of the year by the league's coaches. She more than lived up to the billing. She was one of just three players to average a double-double in the league, topping the conference with 11.7 rebounds per game and ranking second in scoring at 18.0 points per outing.
McMillan was the only unanimous selection to the all-conference team as well, earning her second-straight first team all-conference honor. Both selections were unanimous selections. She had a tremendous season for Upstate, one that not only put her at or near the top of several statistical categories in the A-Sun, but placed her among the nation's elite. She finished the year ranked sixth in the nation with 11.3 rebounds per game, 11th with 18 double-doubles and 50th with a 17.3 points per outing scoring average.
McMillan ranked among the A-Sun leaders in eight statistical categories. In addition to her scoring and rebounding, she topped the conference with 7.2 defensive rebounds per game and 18 double-doubles. She ranked second in the conference in blocked shots (2.0 bpg). In conference play, McMillan was simply outstanding. She raised her scoring average to 19.6 points per game while turning in an 11.7 rpg average. She posted 14 of her 18 double-doubles against A-Sun competition.
McMillan turned in one of the top careers at Upstate despite playing just three years in the program. She transferred to Upstate after spending her freshman season at Santa Fe Community College (Fla.). She ranks in the top 10 all-time in 16 statistical categories, including seventh all-time in scoring (1,301), fourth in rebounding (886), second in blocked shots (153) and third in free throw percentage (79.9%). In Upstate's Division I era, she holds an astounding 16 school records, including points, rebounds and blocked shots.
McMillan is the first Upstate basketball player, male or female, to earn A-Sun Player of the Year honors. She is the first women's basketball player to earn player of the year honors from any conference since Upstate Athletics Hall of Fame member Yakeeshia Ross (Spartanburg, S.C.) earned the award from the Peach Belt Conference (NCAA Division II) in 2006.
Moment No. 1
McMillan's Late Three-Pointer Lifts Spartans Over FGCU
Feb. 28, 2011
In the last home game of her career, senior post player Chelsea McMillan left the Hodge Center faithful with a lasting memory when she nailed a three-pointer with four seconds to play to lift Upstate to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over regular season champion Florida Gulf Coast, 75-74, to close out the A-Sun women's basketball regular season Monday night.
McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) finished the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but the play everyone will remember is the three-pointer she nailed to lift the Spartans over FGCU, who came into the game having already clinched the regular season conference championship. The shot capped a maddening comeback as Upstate trailed by 17 points with 12:01 to play in the game and 10 points with 3:05 to play, but stormed back to take the win.
After falling behind, 61-47, with 12:01 to play, Upstate began to rally and McMillan started the comeback with an old fashion three-point play. The three points began a 12-0 Upstate run. Upstate continued to battle and cut the lead to six on two occasions, the final on a jumper by McMillan with 4:29 to play. FGCU, though, was not done and when Courtney Chihil hit a three-pointer with 3:05 remaining, the Eagles led by 10 again.
Upstate again whittled into the lead and after FGCU missed a three-point attempt, Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to get Upstate within three, 74-71, with 40 seconds to play in the game. FGCU missed another shot attempt, but came down with the rebound. However, Eagle Shannon Murphy's pass was stolen by Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) and Copney was fouled going in for the layup. She made one-of-two from the line to get Upstate within two, 74-72, with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
FGCU inbounded the ball and advanced it up the court until Sarah Hansen was fouled in front of the FGCU bench with 11 seconds to go. She stepped to the line to shoot the one-and-one, but missed the front end.
Copney grabbed the rebound and streaked down the court. The Eagle defense collapsed on her and she found McMillan on the left wing wide open. McMillan took the pass and drained the three-pointer to give the Spartans the lead at 75-74. Copney then put the game away when she came up with a steal with a second left on the clock.
McMillan walked off the parquet floor with her 18th double-double of the season and the 40th of her brilliant three-year career at Upstate. She was one of four Spartans to finish in double figures for the game.
The media relations office will continue to release the top three moments from each sport leading up to the first athletic competition of the 2011-12 academic year, a women's soccer exhibition match against Spartanburg Methodist College on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Men's & Women's Cross Country (Aug. 5)
Men's & Women's Golf (Aug. 8)
Men's Soccer (Aug. 9)
Women's Soccer (Aug. 10)
Softball (Aug. 11)
Men's & Women's Tennis (Aug. 12)
Men's & Women's Track and Field (Aug. 15)
Volleyball (Aug. 16)