Zaveckaite Earns Second-Straight Double-Double as Spartans Fall to Catamounts, 63-58
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Despite freshman Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) picking up her second-straight double-double, the USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-12, 0-2 A-Sun) dropped a 63-58 decision to Western Carolina (5-8, 0-4 SoCon) tonight in the Hodge Center.
The Spartans did well in the first half, going into the locker room at the break with things knotted up at 25-25. This marked the first time this season Upstate has not trailed at the intermission. Tonight was also the first time the Spartans won the opening tip-off for the 2011-12 campaign.
The Catamounts charged ahead in the second frame, taking their largest lead of the contest at 45-37 with 10:29 to play. However, the Spartans fought back and went on a 7-0 run and pulled within one with 8:24 to go. Upstate continued to trail for the next several minutes as the two teams exchanged points.
Upstate pulled within three points (56-53) after a pair of free throws from junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) with 2:13 left on the clock. The three-point deficit was the closest the Spartans got for the remainder of the contest. Both teams went to the line multiple times during the last 2:44 as 14 of the last 16 points of the game were earned at the charity stripe with the Catamounts coming out on top, snapping a six-game losing-streak.
The Spartans were led once again by Zaveckaite, tallying her second consecutive double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) also posted a team-high tonight with a matching 14 points, while grabbing five rebounds. This was Zaveckaite's third double-figure scoring effort and Copney's 10th of the season. The junior totals 969 career-points, just 31 shy of the 1,000-point milestone.
Other noteworthy Spartans on the night included, Smith and freshman Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.) who registered eight points each. Smith handed out a game-high five assists, while also collecting six boards. Junior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) and sophomore Kim Roach (Columbia, S.C.) added six points apiece, while freshman Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) snagged five rebounds.
Western Carolina was led by a trio of double-digit scorers with Makensey Campbell leading the way with 18 points. Rena Wakama and Kaila'Shea Menendez recorded 13 and 11 points, respectively. Wakama dished out five assists, while also swiping four steals as did Menendez.
Upstate won the battle of the boards for the second time this season, out-rebounding the Catamounts 41-21. The Spartans shot 35.4 percent (17-of-48) from the floor and 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from behind the arc. WCU was 41.7 percent (20-of-48) overall and 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from long distance. Western Carolina outscored Upstate in the paint 18-16 and off of turn overs 23-10. The Spartans turned the ball over 21 times compared to the Catamounts' 12. Upstate outscored WCU on second-chance points 18-10, but lost the fast break battle 4-2. The Catamount bench scored 24 points, while the Spartan bench put up 16 points.
WCU owns a 6-3 overall advantage against the Spartans, including a 3-2 mark in Spartanburg, S.C. Prior to tonight's contest, Upstate won the last three contests against the Catamounts. In the teams' last meeting Dec. 1, 1997 in Spartanburg, S.C., Upstate claimed a 66-64 victory. Tonight's game was the first match-up between the two teams in the Division-I era.