FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite a strong first half showing Saturday at No. 14/19 West Virginia, the USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-3) closed out its four-game road swing with a 75-45 loss to the Mountaineers.
The Spartans came out strong in the opening period, taking a 6-4 lead at the 15:36 mark off of a pair of free throws from freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.). After that, the Mountaineers regained the lead, but Upstate answered back, tying things up at 10-10. West Virginia responded with a few quick baskets and slowly began to pull away in the remaining 10 minutes of the first frame. Upstate fought to hang on as WVU took an 11-point lead (38-27) into the locker room at the half.
The second half did not go Upstate's way as West Virginia opened the final period with an 11-4 run. That was immediately followed by a 15-2 run by the Mountaineers. WVU continued to extend its lead as Upstate couldn't overcome the deficit and the Mountaineers claimed the 75-45 win.
The Spartans were led by senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) with 10 points, marking her first double-digit outing this season. Her classmate Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) was second on the team, tallying nine points to go along with an Upstate-high four assists and a team-best three steals.
Starling put up six points for Upstate and pulled down three rebounds, while sophomore Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) scored five points and grabbed a team-high four boards. Senior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) posted four points as did junior Valese McAllister (Twin City, Ga.). McAllister also snagged four rebounds for the Spartans.
West Virginia was led by a trio of Mountaineers scoring double-figures as Bria Holmes paced the squad with 14 points. Jennie Simms and Averee Fields rounded out the double-digits for WVU with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Crystal Leary and Ayana Dunning helped the Mountaineer offense, adding nine points each.
Leary led WVU in rebounding, collecting a game-high 10 boards, including six on the defensive end. Dunning was second on the team, gathering eight rebounds, while Jess Harlee had six. Holmes registered a game-high two blocked shots, while also swiping four steals alongside Fields.
The Spartans were outrebounded by the Mountaineers 40-29. However, Upstate shot 43.6 percent from the floor compared to WVU's 36.5 percent. West Virginia was 17.2 percent from behind the arc, connecting on 5-of-27, while Upstate struggled, going 1-for-10 from long distance for a 10.0 three-point percentage. The Spartans shot 76.9 percent (5-of-7) from the line, while WVU was 63.2 percent (16-23).
The Spartans return to action Monday, Nov. 19 for their home-opener against St. Andrews Presbyterian at 7 p.m., where the women's basketball program will honor the life and legacy of the late George Gaines Jr. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.