December 16, 2010

Spartan Rally Comes Up Just Short in 67-60 Loss to Campbell

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A late second-half rally by the USC Upstate men's basketball squad was not enough as Campbell claimed a seven point win in Atlantic Sun Conference action on Thursday night inside the Hodge Center.

Campbell (6-3, 1-0 A-Sun) owned a 15-point advantage, 55-40, with 6:36 remaining after a successful layup by Keishawn Mayes.  Over the next five minutes, the Spartans (2-8, 1-1) used a 20-8 run to cut the deficit to just three, 63-60, with 1:25 remaining.

The Spartan rally was started on a three-pointer from the wing by Tony Dukes (Ellenwood, Ga./Atlanta MetropolitanCollege) at the 6:13 mark.  Chandler Hash (Greer, S.C./Greer HS) answered a Junard Hartley free throw with a three-pointer with 5:21 left.

After Campbell pushed the lead back to 12 with 4:55 left, Upstate used a quick 6-0 spurt to cut the Camel lead in half at 58-52 with less than four minutes to play. 

Upstate was able to stay within eight points and thanks to a three-pointer by Torrey Craig (Rock Hill, S.C./Great Falls HS) and four free throws by Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central HS), the Spartans found itself down by just three with less than a minute and a half remaining.

After a missed jumper by Campbell guard Lorne Merthie, Craig grabbed the rebound and the Spartans headed down the court with a chance to tie the game with less than a minute to play.

Craig's three-pointer from the right wing with 34 seconds remaining bounced off of the side of the rim and the Camels tacked on four free throws in the final 27 seconds to set the final margin at 67-60.

"We responded well late tonight," said head coach Eddie Payne.  "But we can't rely on trying to do that every game, we have to play hard the full 40 minutes and that's not something we did tonight.  Also, late in the game Campbell missed some key free throws, but they were able to get the rebound and that really hurt us."

Craig led all scorers with 19 points, matching his career-high (East Carolina, Nov. 21) and he grabbed six rebounds.  Meanwhile, Josh Chavis (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley HS) finished with 11 points behind three treys to go along with three assists and three steals.

In the first half, the two teams battled back and forth over the first eight minutes of the game with neither team owning a lead of more than four points. After Josh Chavis hit a three to cut the Campbell lead to 19-15 with 7:16 remaining, the Camels closed the half on a 19-8 run to take a 15 point lead (38-23) into the locker room at intermission.

The Campbell lead fluctuated between 13 and 19 points over the first eight minutes of the second-half and it wasn't until that point that the Spartans began to cut into the Camel lead.

Campbell was paced by Junard Hartley (15 points) and Keishawn Mayes (14 points) as well as Marvelle Harris who scored nine points and grabbed 12 boards. 

Campbell shot 50 percent from the floor (27-for-54), but was just 2-for-7 from beyond the arc.  However the Spartans were unable to capitalize as they finished 19-for-53 from the field (35.8%) and 8-for-27 on three point attempts (29.6%).

The Spartans also missed nine of their 23 free throw attempts in the contest (60.4%).

Upstate will begin a four-game road swing on Tuesday night as they travel to Auburn, Ala., to face off against the Auburn Tigers.  Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. (CT).