Upstate Women Set for Hodge Center Hoops Double-Feature
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (4-15, 3-5 A-Sun) hosts Atlantic Sun Conference foe Belmont (6-13, 5-3 A-Sun) tomorrow at 4:30 p.m., following the Spartan men's game against the Bruin men at 2 p.m.
Belmont enters Saturday's contest with a 6-13 record this season, including a 5-3 mark in A-Sun play. The Bruins are 2-8 on the road this season.
Both teams are currently on a two-game winning-streak. In the Bruins' last outing, they picked up an 88-75 win at ETSU Jan. 19. Molly Ernst led the Belmont against the Buccaneers with 27 points, while Haley Nelson recorded a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. The Bruins also defeated Stetson 65-58 Jan. 14 in Nashville, Tenn. Against the Hatters, Ernst posted a team-high 18 points, while Nelson registered 17 points and 10 boards.
On the season, Belmont is led by Nelson, averaging 14.8 points per game, while Ernst is second on the squad with 8.3 points a game. Nelson also leads the Bruins in rebounds, snagging 8.2 boards a game. Katie Brooks is second on the team with 3.4 rebounds per game.
The overall series between Upstate the Belmont is tied at 4-4, including a 2-2 mark in Spartanburg, S.C. The Spartans have won the last four meetings against the Bruins. Last season, Upstate beat Belmont 69-51 in the Hodge Center Jan. 22, 2011 and then again 63-53 in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 19, 2011. The Spartans haven't lost to the Bruins since dropping a 67-61 decision Feb. 13, 2009 in Music City.
The Spartans have won three of their last four contests, going back to a 77-56 win at home against Mercer Jan. 9. Upstate picked up an exciting 58-57 win at North Florida Jan. 14 with Briana Robinson's (Columbia, S.C.) buzzer-beater jumper. Most recently, the Spartans knocked off Lipscomb 73-66 in the Hodge Center Jan. 19.
The Spartans have been strong from the free throw line all season, shooting 77.7 percent. Upstate ranks 11th in the nation in free throw percentage and leads the conference. Junior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) leads the squad at the line, shooting 85.2 percent (52-for-61) from the charity stripe. She is second in the A-Sun in the category and is 43rd in the NCAA statistical rankings. Freshman Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) has the best overall percentage for the Spartans, but hasn't had enough trips to the line to rank in the league statistics. She boasts a 91.7 percent, going 22-for-24 on the season.
Upstate is led by Copney with 15.7 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per contest. Robinson and junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) are averaging 7.9 and 6.0 points per contest, respectively. Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) leads the squad with 6.9 boards per contest, while Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.3 per game.