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MACON, Ga. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (5-12, 1-5 A-Sun) fell to Atlantic Sun Conference opponent Mercer (10-7, 4-2 A-Sun) 72-55 Saturday, dropping its fifth-straight contest.
Upstate got on the board first in the opening minute of action off of a bucket underneath the basket from freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.). Mercer then rattled off an 11-0 run. The two teams exchanged points for a while until the Bears took a 21-10 lead with 7:39 to play in the first period. Mercer closed out the half with a 16-6 run, taking a 37-16 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Bears led by as many as 26 (50-24) in the contest with 16:18 on the clock in the second half. The Spartans managed to trim the deficit down to 17 as they outscored Mercer in the second period 39-35 and MU took the 72-55 victory.
Starling paced the Spartans, posting a career-high 18 points, while connecting on 6-of-8 from the line. This marked her seventh double-digit scoring effort this season and second-straight. Earlier in the season, the rookie tallied 17 points at Old Dominion Nov. 13.Starling had three rebounds against the Bears to go along with one block.
Upstate freshman Brittany Clency (Greensboro, N.C.) was second on the team, scoring 10 points for her second double-figure outing on the season. Junior Valese McAllister (Twin City, Ga.) tallied six points in seven minutes of action, while senior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) had five points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) pulled down five boards, while freshman Tweety Hawkins (Madison, Ga.) put up four points, snagged four rebounds and handed out two assists.
Mercer was led by a trio of scorers reaching double-digits as Precious Bridges led the way with a game-high 23 points. Alicia Williams and Kendra Grant recorded 15 and 13 points, respectively. Ry'van Buchanan added nine points to go along with seven rebounds for MU.
The Bears won the battle of the boards 41-37 as Mercer's Teanna Robinson collected a game-high nine rebounds. Sharmesia Smith was second on the team for MU, gathering eight boards, while Sharmea Boykin had six. Boykin dished out a game-high nine assists.
On the day, the Spartans shot 32.8 percent from the floor and 20.0 percent from long distance, compared to Mercer's 43.9 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent from three-point range. Upstate continued to be better from the line than its opponents, going 16-for-22 from the charity stripe for a 72.7 percent. The Bears went 12-for-17 from the line, shooting 70.6 percent.
The Spartans lost the contest of second chances 20-8. Mercer edged Upstate in points in the paint 30-28. MU also outscored the Spartans in points off of turnovers 16-7. Upstate had 16 turnovers on the day, while the Bears logged 12 turnovers.
The Spartans continue their Peach State tour, heading to Kennesaw State for a 7 p.m. tip-off Monday in A-Sun action. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.