Five Spartans Score Double-Figures; Upstate Women Declaw Bears, 77-56
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (2-14, 1-4 A-Sun) picked-up its first home win and first conference victory, downing Mercer (3-14, 1-5 A-Sun) 77-56 tonight in the Hodge Center for Project Rebuild Night as five Spartans scored double-digits.
Upstate led wire-to-wire tonight, jumping out to an 11-2 lead with 14:36 to play in the first half. The Spartans held the Bears scoreless for the first five minutes of the ballgame. Upstate took a 37-19 lead into the locker room at the intermission, marking the first time all season the team has led at the half.
The Spartans had five players score double-figures, also a season-first, as junior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) led the charge with 18 points, going 5-for-8 from the floor and 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Her classmate Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) flirted with a double dip, adding career-highs of 12 points and nine boards.
Hicks went 5-for-7 from the floor, while McRoberts went 4-for-5 from the floor. Both were 2-for-2 from the line. McRoberts' double-double is her first this season and third in her career. Freshman Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.) was second on the squad with 13 points, while junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) rounded out the double-digits for Upstate with 10 points.
Smith also handed out five assists for the Spartans to go along with six rebounds, while Copney dished out four helpers. Freshman Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) contributed five points and seven boards. Hicks and Zaveckaite each had one block, while Hicks also swiped two steals. Sophomore Erin Pinkett (Cambridge, Md.) added six points, while grabbing two steals along with McRoberts.
The Bears had a trio of scorers, reaching double-figures as Ry'van Buchanan led them with 16 points and five blocked shots. Jasmine Blakemore and Briana Williams each posted 12 points. Williams tallied five assists, while Buchanan and Alex Phillips recorded a team-high of five rebounds each.
Upstate shot 47.3 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent (5-for-10) from three-point range. Mercer was 38.2 percent from the floor and was 0-for-11 from behind the arc. Upstate was 83.3 percent from the free throw line, while Mercer was 70.0 percent. The Spartan bench outscored the Bear bench 31-18 and outscored them in the paint 32-24. Upstate won the battle of the boards 45-24 and the battle of second chances 12-8. However, the Spartans turned the ball over 25 times, compared to the Bears' 21 turnovers.
The 21-point win on Project Rebuild Night is the largest margin of victory for Upstate since defeating Lipscomb 88-58 Feb. 11, 2010. After the game, the Spartans presented gifts to a local family whose house burned six years ago and was rebuilt recently. Fans were encouraged to donate household items to help the Spartanburg elderly lady and her family. The Upstate women's basketball team volunteered its time back in August to help clean-up debris before the rebuilding could begin. Due to a community effort, the house is almost complete and ready for the family to move in.
The Spartan win brings the overall series record against Mercer to a 5-5 tie, including a 3-3 mark in Spartanburg, S.C. Upstate has won the last four meetings with the Bears. Last season, the Spartans beat Mercer 70-64 in Macon, Ga., Jan. 5, 2011 and then again 74-63 inside the Hodge Center Jan. 19, 2011.