Grand Re-Opening: Spartans Win Thriller in Revamped Hodge Center
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Fueled by five players reaching double figures and Carter Cook's (Clemmons, N.C./Calvary Baptist Day School) game-winning free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining in the second overtime, the USC Upstate men's basketball squad picked up its first win of the season and the first in the newly renovated Hodge Center on Monday night. The Spartans defeated the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in double overtime, 93-91.
After Cook connected on a pair of free throws with 55 seconds remaining, tying the score at 91-91, the Spartans defense came up big as they denied a pair of Bulldog layups with less than 30 seconds remaining and Cook came up with the defensive rebound for Upstate.
As the clock hit 10 seconds remaining, Cook had a wide open lane to the basket, but was fouled on the way to the rim by Jon Nwannunu. Cook sank both free throw attempts, giving the Spartans the 93-91 lead. The Bulldogs quickly raced the other way and J.P. Primm drove to the basket, but his running layup attempt was unsuccessful as the Spartans claimed the two-point victory.
Cook and Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central HS) each finished with 16 points, Mezie Uzochukwu (Greensboro, N.C./Northeast Guilford HS) scored 15 points, with Josh Chavis (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley HS) and Torrey Craig (Rock Hill, S.C./Great Falls HS) posting 14 points and 10 points, respectively.
Craig led the Spartans with 14 rebounds as he became the first Spartan to record a double-double since Nick Schneiders tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds at Florida Gulf Coast (2/25/10). Olumuyiwa recorded six blocks against the Bulldogs, giving him 19 blocks over the last three games.
The Spartans opened the game on a 12-3 run over the first 6:38. Uzochukwu got the scoring started as he connected on his layup attempt, despite being fouled by Matt Dickey. The senior forward connected on his free throw attempt and less than 30 seconds later, the Spartan lead was extended on Olumuyiwa's dunk from the left side of the paint.
Torrey Craig scored the next five points for the Spartans and Uzochukwu's layup with 13:22 remaining gave the Spartans the early 12-3 lead. The Spartans continued to keep the Bulldogs at bay during the first half as UNC Asheville never got closer than five points and trailed by double digits most of the first half.
At halftime, the Spartans owned a 37-27 advantage and it marked the first time the Spartans held a halftime lead this season.
UNC Asheville opened the second half on a 10-1 run as the cut the Spartan lead to just one point with 14:37 remaining in the second half.
Upstate quickly responded with a 10-1 run of its own as Upstate found itself ahead 48-38 with 10:25 remaining in regulation. The Spartan run began on a jumper and a layup by Cook, followed by a jumper by Chalmers Rogers (Fort Mill, S.C./Fort Mill HS) and a layup by Uzochukwu. Chavis completed the run with a pair of free throws to cap the spurt.
As the second half game of runs continued, the Bulldogs posted a 13-2 run over a 3:48 stretch as they took a two-point lead, 56-54, with 5:38 to play. It was just the second lead of the game for UNC Asheville, who led 1-0 early in the first half.
The two teams continued to battle down the stretch, but the Spartans found themselves in a six-point hole, 67-61, with 1:52 remaining. Uzochukwu cut the deficit to just four on a layup in the paint with 1:27 left in the second half.
The Spartans trimmed the lead to just two with 55 seconds remaining when Josh Chavis connected on a layup to set the score at 67-65. After Olumuyiwa connected on one of two free throw attempts with 22 seconds left, the Spartans were down 69-66. Full court pressure by the Spartans forced Bulldog guard Matt Dickey to turn the ball over with 19 seconds left, giving the Spartans a chance for the tie.
With the game clock winding down, Tony Dukes (Ellenwood, Ga./Atlanta Metropolitan College) connected on a three-pointer from the right wing with two seconds remaining. After a desperation attempt by the Bulldogs fell short, the two teams headed for overtime, deadlocked at 69.
The first overtime period was a back and forth affair, with the Bulldogs ahead 79-74 with 1:32 remaining. The Spartans, as they did at the end of regulation, battled back and took an 84-81 lead thanks to a pair of Torrey Craig free throws with nine seconds remaining. UNC Asheville's J.P. Primm connected on a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired sending the game to a second overtime.
Like the previous 45 minutes, the two teams continued to battle and neither team held more than a three-point advantage in the second overtime.
Carter Cook's four free throws in the final minute of the second overtime sealed the deal for the Spartans who claimed the 93-91 victory over the Bulldogs.
Upstate connected on 31 of its 71 field goal attempts (43.7%), while UNC Asheville shot 39.7% from the floor (27-of-68). The Bulldogs owned the advantage in rebounding (46-42).
The Spartans led the way in bench scoring (39-12), points in the paint (38-32), points off of turnovers (33-21), second chance points (16-15) and fast break points (6-4).
The Bulldogs were lead by J.P. Primm (26 points), Matt Dickey (20 points) and D.J. Cunningham (12 points, 18 rebounds).
Upstate will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., when they host ETSU in the conference opener for both teams.