Jan. 24, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate scored a season-high 44 first-half points and dominated in the first 20 minutes of play. The strong first half enabled the Spartans to take a 73-65 victory over Campbell Saturday afternoon in the Hodge Center, giving Upstate its second-straight win of the season.
Upstate improved to 4-14 overall and 3-6 in the A-Sun. The Spartans have won two in a row for the first time this season and just the second time playing on the Division I level. Upstate defeated Kennesaw State and Mercer in back-to-back games at home last year. The Spartans travel to East Tennessee State University Monday night for a 7:00 tip-off. The game will be televised regionally on CSS TV. Campbell fell to 7-12 overall and 4-6 in the league. The Fighting Camels play host to Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday night at 7:00 in Buies Creek, N.C.
It was all Upstate from the opening tip as the Spartans ran out to a 12-2 lead and did not look back on the way to halftime. Behind 54 percent shooting in the half, the Spartans increased the lead to 13 points midway through the half. After Campbell cut the Upstate lead to single digits, the Spartans ran the lead up to a game-high 19 points on two occasions before settling for a 17-point, 44-27, lead at halftime.
"I thought we played well, particularly early in the game," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne. "We had good ball movement and were able to build the lead. We didn't hardly have any turnovers in the first half, but we turned the ball over in the second half and they were able to get back in the game."
Upstate committed just five turnovers in the first half and finished the game with 15. The Spartans' defensive effort was also key as Upstate held Campbell to 32 percent shooting from the floor and 33 percent shooting from the three-point arc in the first half. Bobby Davis and Josh Chavis each led Upstate with 10 points in the half.
Campbell fought back into the game early in the second half. The Camels outscored Upstate 9-2 to open the half, cutting a 17-point deficit to 10, 46-36, with 17:27 to play. The lead culminated with Spartans Nick Schneiders and Davis both picking up their third fouls in the game. Both were relegated to the bench for a significant chunk of time.
With the inside presence of the Spartans on the bench, Campbell was able to chip away at the lead even more. After Upstate pushed the lead back to 15 points, the Camels used a 12-2 run to cut the Spartan lead to 53-48 with 13:12 to play in the game. Chavis nailed a three-pointer, one of three in the game for the sophomore point guard, to give Upstate an eight-point advantage and room to operate with Davis and Schneiders still on the bench.
After Davis and Schneiders were both inserted into the lineup at the 11:50 mark, Davis picked up his fourth foul just 1:08 later and was sent back to the bench. Upstate, though, was able to use the play of Schneiders to maintain an inside presence and the 7-3 junior delivered. His layup and free throw after being fouled gave Upstate a 61-52 lead with 10:28 to play.
After Campbell had cut the lead back to six, Schneiders assisted on Carter Cook's three-pointer to give the Spartans a nine-point advantage again with 3:33 to play. Campbell would cut the lead to five with 1:02 to play, but Upstate made five of six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Upstate entered the game shooting 65 percent from the free throw line. Saturday, Upstate converted 22-of-24 tosses from the charity stripe, good for 92 percent shooting from the line.
"We made free throws and anytime you make your free throws, you have a chance to win," said Payne.
Davis played just 24 minutes in the game, but finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. He played just nine minutes in the second half due to foul trouble.
"That was the least amount of minutes Bobby has played this year, but we were able to weather the storm," said Payne. "Generally speaking, our defense has gotten better. We had more energy, defensively. Physically, we are more comfortable playing in the league now and I think you have seen that in the last few games."
Schneiders led Upstate with a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots. De'Marion Gordon added a strong 13 points and was 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Chavis tallied 17 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Spartans.
Jonathan Rodriguez, who finished with just three points and two rebounds Thursday night at ETSU, rallied his game Saturday. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds Saturday for a double-double of his own. Lorne Merthie added a solid 17 points with four steals for the Camels.