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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (5-7, 1-0 A-Sun) opened Atlantic Sun Conference play Wednesday night with a convincing 90-79 victory over ETSU (2-6, 0-1 A-Sun) inside the Hodge Center as five Spartans scored double-figures.
Despite leading by as many as 28 points with 5:36 left to play, Upstate opened the door and allowed ETSU to cut the deficit to single-digits with 19 seconds remaining in the contest. The Buccaneers went on a 16-0 run, holding the Spartans scoreless for just over three minutes. Upstate's last field goal of the game came off of a layup with 5:36 left on the clock. The Spartans closed out the contest, making 13 free throws in the last 2:25 of play.
Upstate's 90 points is the largest point total for the Spartans this season as the previous team high was 83 points against St. Andrews Nov. 19. This also marked the first time the Spartans have had five players score double-digits this season. Four Upstate players reached double-figures in both overtime contests this year against Furman Dec. 29 and at Norfolk State Nov. 15.
After the Buccaneers took an early 7-2 lead in the opening five minutes of the first half, the Spartans went to work. Upstate turned in an explosive first half, which included a 16-4 run that led to a 38-26 score at the break. The Spartans netted six three-pointers in the first frame alone with four from senior Hannah Ohl (Danville, Ill.).
Ohl paced all scorers on the night, tallying a career-best 19 points to pass her previous personal record of 18 points against Stetson Feb. 29, 2012. This marked her third-straight double-digit outing and fourth overall this season. She connected on 5-of-9 from long distance, tying her career-high five made treys, which she recorded against High Point Dec. 16. Ohl helped the Spartans tie their season-best of nine three-balls, which was also accomplished against HPU.
Upstate senior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) posted 17 points for her fifth-straight double-figure scoring performance. She was perfect from the charity stripe, going 8-for-8. Copney also grabbed five rebounds for the Spartans, while dishing out a game-high and season-best eight assists to go along with two steals.
Senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) put up 14 points for the Spartans, tying her season-high. She went 11-for-12 from the line, including nine made free throws during the last 2:25 of the game. Smith also snagged six rebounds and handed out four assists on the night.
The Spartan bigs rounded out the double-figures for Upstate as sophomore forward Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) recorded 12 points and freshman center Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.) turned in her first career double-double with 10 points and a career-best 10 rebounds. Hicks was nearly perfect on the night, going 5-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line. Starling was strong from the foul line as well, going 6-for-7.
ETSU had a trio of players score double-figures as Shawn Randall led the way with 16 points, while Maria Bond and Cara Bowling each posted 15 points. Destiny Mitchell flirted with a double-double for the Bucs, registering nine points and pulling down a game-high 12 boards.
Upstate shot an even 50.0 percent from the floor on the night, while going 47.4 percent from behind the arc. ETSU posted a 40.3 field goal percentage, while shooting 34.8 percent from long distance. The Spartans were also better at the line than the Bucs, recording a 91.2 free throw percentage (31-of-34) compared to ETSU's 56.3 percent (9-of-16).
The Spartans won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Bucs 40-38. However, ETSU claimed the contest of second chances, outscoring Upstate 22-7 in second-chance points. The Bucs scored 23 points off of the Spartans' 19 turnovers, while Upstate scored 16 points off of ETSU's 12 turnovers.
The Spartans return to action Saturday, Jan. 2, traveling to A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky for a 4:30 p.m. contest. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.