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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (5-11, 1-4 A-Sun) dropped a 77-54 decision to Florida Gulf Coast (13-5, 6-0 A-Sun) in Atlantic Sun Conference action Monday evening inside the Hodge Center.
The Spartans got on the board first with a three-pointer from senior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) in the opening minute of the contest, but the 3-0 lead would prove to be the largest for Upstate the rest of the night. The Eagles responded with a 7-0 run to go ahead by four. However, the Spartans managed to string together an 8-2 run to take an 11-9 advantage with 13:46 left in the half. Upstate's two-point lead resulted in FGCU calling a 30 second timeout to regroup.
After the timeout, the Eagles went to work and jumped back in front. The teams exchanged points for a few minutes before FGCU used a 10-2 run to take a 28-18 lead with 7:40 to play in the first stanza. The Eagles kept rolling and extended their lead to 15 (36-21) at halftime.
The second period wasn't much better for Upstate as FGCU outscored the Spartans 41-33 in the second half to claim the eventual 77-54 win.
Freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.) and senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) posted a team-high 13 points each for the Spartans with 11 of Starling's points coming in the first half alone. Smith was perfect from the line, going 4-for-4 to improve to 83.0 percent from the charity stripe on the year. This marked her second-straight double-digit outing and sixth on the season. Smith also grabbed a team-best five rebounds and handed out a game-high five assists, while Starling pulled down four boards.
Upstate freshman Tweety Hawkins (Madison, Ga.) recorded eight points to go along with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Freshman Brittany Clency (Greensboro, N.C.) tallied six points on the night, while McRoberts and freshman Travonda Haddock (Pollocksville, N.C.) added five points apiece.
FGCU was led by a trio of scorers reaching double-figures as Sarah Hansen led the way with a game-high 25 points. Brittany Kennedy and Joyce Iamstrong registered 17 and 15 points, respectively. Iamstrong collected a game-best seven rebounds, while Hansen had six boards. Kennedy gathered five rebounds to go along with a game-high four steals, while Iamstrong swiped three steals.
On the night, the Spartans shot 40.0 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from long distance, compared to FGCU's 53.1 field goal percentage and 35.3 percent from three-point range. Upstate did better at the line, going 16-for-18 for 88.9 percent. The Eagles were 79.2 percent from the charity stripe, connecting on 19-of-24.
FGCU won the battle of the boards 29-24, but Upstate claimed the contest of second chances 12-9. The Spartans struggled with turnovers on the night, turning the ball over 20 times. The Eagles capitalized on the Upstate miscues, posting 23 points off of turnovers. The Spartans registered 17 points off of 14 FGCU turnovers.
The Spartans return to action Saturday, Jan. 19, traveling to A-Sun foe Mercer for a 2 p.m. tip-off. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.