Davis Hustles Spartans To Victory Over UNF
Jan. 3, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - Bobby Davis made a play with eight minutes to play in the game that epitomized his season and very well could have spurred the Spartans on to victory as Upstate jumped out to a large lead and held on down the stretch for a 69-64 victory over North Florida in A-Sun men's basketball action Saturday afternoon in the Hodge Center.
With Upstate leading by 11 points, Davis ran 15 feet to chase down an offensive rebound, jumping up and throwing the ball back into the paint before crashing to the floor. After Mezie Uzochukwu missed his short jumper, Davis had jumped to his feet, grabbed the rebound and was fouled while attempting a layup. He converted one of two free throws, but the hustle play that took about five seconds to complete gave Upstate the spark it needed to finish the game and earn its first A-Sun victory of the season.
Upstate improved to 2-10 overall and 1-2 in the A-Sun, having won two of its last three games. The Spartans play host to Jacksonville Monday night at 7:30 in the Hodge Center. North Florida fell to 2-11 overall and 0-3 in the league. The Ospreys travel to East Tennessee State Monday night for a 7:00 tip.
"Two things happened today in the game," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne. "First, we made free throws and Bobby (Davis) led the way. Second, we got complacent when we got big leads. We haven't been in that situation, playing with a lead and having to hold onto it when a team challenges us. Hopefully, we will learn from this experience for the next time we are in that position."
"There hasn't been a frontcourt performance like that since I have been here."
Eddie Payne, Upstate Head Coach
"I have been working on my free throws after practice," said Davis. "I know I am going to get fouled, so I need to make my free throws when I get fouled. We just got back from break and needed a win. It feels good to get one, but we have to put this game behind us and concentrate on the game Monday."
It looked for much of the game that Upstate would have a fairly easy way to its first conference victory. However, each time the Spartans jumped out to a large lead in both halves, North Florida scrapped its way back into the game. Upstate outscored North Florida 11-2 to start the game before the Ospreys fought back to tie the game at 15-15. The Spartans responded by outscoring North Florida 13-3 over the next six minutes to open a 10-point advantage, 28-18, with 6:20 to play in the half. Again, though, North Florida fought back to cut the lead to two before settling for a four-point deficit at halftime.
Davis was strong from the onset, finishing the first half with 17 points and seven rebounds. Cortez Riley paced North Florida with 10 points.
Upstate opened the second half with 14 straight points to open a 49-31 lead to seemingly take firm control of the game. Nick Schneiders scored the first three baskets for the Spartans, opening up the perimeter for Upstate as the Spartans vaulted out to its biggest lead of the game. North Florida, though, would not quit.
After Upstate held a 17-point lead with 5:39 to play, North Florida fought to get back into the game. The Ospreys scored 10 unanswered points to cut the 17-point deficit to seven, 59-52, with 2:49 to play in the game. Cameron Lovelace led the run with eight points, hitting two three-pointers and adding a jumper.
Uzochukwu converted 1-of-2 from the free throw line to give Upstate an eight-point lead with 1:58 to play. North Florida continued to whittle away at the lead, cutting the deficit to four on two occasions with under a minute to play. Upstate, though, made its ensuing free throws after the lead was cut to four to seal the win. Davis made both of his free throws with 41 seconds to play, while Josh Chavis made both of his with 21 seconds remaining. Chavis, in fact, made 5-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 21 seconds to help the Spartan cause.
Upstate didn't shoot the ball particularly well, aside from Davis. The Spartans were just 34.6 percent from the floor, but turned 17 North Florida turnovers into 24 points to spell the difference in the game.
Chavis finished with 13 points and three assists for Upstate. Gabor Boros was solid, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and a career-high six assists without a turnover to lead the Spartan cause.
"I thought Gabor played a very good game," said Payne. "He defended well, distributed the ball well and made some shots for us."
Still, the story was Davis for Upstate, and Payne was quick to comment on the strong play of his senior.
"I am proud of him," said Payne. "When he faces you, he is tough to guard. He wasn't comfortable doing that last year, but he has worked on it and is comfortable this season. It shows what kind of improvement he has made from last year to this year. There hasn't been a frontcourt performance like that since I have been here."
Riley led the way for North Florida, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. Stan Januska narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Lovelace added 11 for the Ospreys.