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NORFOLK, Va. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-2) picked-up its first win of the season in dramatic fashion with a 71-64 come-from-behind overtime victory at Norfolk State (1-1) Thursday evening.
Upstate had a quartet of Spartans scoring double-figures, including a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds from senior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.). However the first half was a bit of a struggle for Upstate. Norfolk State took a 13-point lead with 1:28 to play in the opening stanza. A three-pointer from senior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) and a jumper from sophomore Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) in the remaining minute cut the deficit to 32-24 just before the intermission.
The Norfolk Spartans extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second frame, taking a 15-point lead with 16:56 to play in regulation. A jumper from freshman Tweety Hawkins (Madison, Ga.) and a layup by Copney cut the NSU advantage to 41-30. Norfolk State answered back with two more baskets, regaining its 15-point lead with 15:20 left in the second half. However, the Spartans from South Carolina refused to give-up and slowly chipped away at the deficit as the 15-points would be the largest lead NSU would have the rest of the night.
Upstate turned things around after the first five minutes of the second half, going on a 21-4 run and pulling ahead 54-49 at the 5:27 mark. Hicks made the tying jumper with 6:15 to play in the half, while McRoberts scored the go-ahead layup at 6:10 to put the score at 51-49.
Norfolk State wouldn't go away quietly though as NSU took a one-point lead off a made layup. McRoberts knotted things up for Upstate with a made free throw, putting the score at 55-55 with 3:01 to go in regulation. The teams exchanged missed shots for the next two and half minutes until Quineshia Leonard scored a layup for Norfolk State with 39 seconds to go in the second half.
Down 57-55, Upstate called a timeout with 31 seconds left on the clock to set up a play. The Spartans from South Carolina inbounded the ball and then took nine seconds off the clock running a play. McRoberts caught the ball towards the top of the key and drained a long two-pointer, tying things up yet again and sending the contest into extra time.
Upstate carried the momentum from the second half into overtime, taking a 59-57 advantage off of a pair of free throws from Hawkins at the 4:23 mark. Upstate never looked back and dominated the overtime period, taking the seven-point victory.
Copney paced Upstate with a game-high 16 points, going 4-for-4 from the line. Hawkins was second on the squad with a season-high 14 points, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. McRoberts put-up 13 points, while freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.) and Hicks added 10 and nine points, respectively. Hicks was solid from the line, connecting on 3-of-3 free throws.
McRoberts led Upstate with 10 rebounds to go along with three steals and one blocked shot. Hicks was second on the team with seven boards, while Copney and senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) each grabbed five rebounds. Smith handed out a team-high-seven assists and swiped three steals.
Despite a strong rebounding effort by Upstate, Norfolk State still won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Upstate 49-40. Rachel Gordon led NSU with 12 boards, while Leonard snagged 11. Leonard completed the double-double with 14 points.
Rae Corbo posted a team-high 15 points for Norfolk State, all of which came in the first half. Kashay Barnes and Ebony Brown helped the NSU offensive effort, putting up nine points each. Recca Trice dished out a game-best nine assists, while also snagging three steals and scoring six points.
Upstate shot 45.8 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from behind the arc, while NSU was 34.2 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from long distance. At the line, Upstate proved why it was the 11th-best team in the nation last season from the free throw line, shooting 70.0 percent on the night from the charity stripe compared to Norfolk State's 53.8 percent.
The Upstate Spartans continue to be the road warriors, heading to West Virginia for a 1 p.m. contest Saturday. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.