Spartans Fall to Kennesaw State in First Game of 2011
KENNESAW, Ga. – Torrey Craig (Rock Hill, S.C./Great Falls HS) and Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central) both had career nights on the hardwood for the Spartans on Monday night at Kennesaw State. Despite the freshman duo leading the Spartans, Kennesaw State claimed the 78-71 victory inside the KSU Convocation Center.
Craig posted a game-high 25 points, a career best for the first-year Spartan, as he connected on 11 field goal attempts including three three-pointers. Craig also finished with seven rebounds and two assists.
Meanwhile Olumuyiwa recorded his first collegiate double-double as he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with 12 points. He also rejected two Kennesaw State shots to move his season total to 38, as he moved into 10th place all-time as he passed Carlos Bryson (1993-97) who had 37 in 114 career games.
Upstate (2-11, 1-2 A-Sun) found itself in a one-point hole at halftime, 39-38, but the Spartans took the lead 15 seconds into the second half when Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga./Richmond Academy) sank a pair of free throws to give the Spartans a 40-39 advantage.
The Owls (3-10, 1-2) responded with a 9-0 run over a 3:01 stretch to take a 48-40 lead with 16:22 remaining in the second half. Upstate followed with a 5-0 spurt of their own thanks to a trey by Josh Chavis (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) and a dunk by Craig.
Upstate was able to keep the game in single digits for most of the second-half but failed to get any closer than four down the stretch and untimely turnovers doomed the Spartans comeback attempt.
"We didn't defend well enough to win the game tonight," said head coach Eddie Payne. "Their guards beat us tonight and they shot the ball very well. Josh (Chavis) had a good game tonight as he had eight points and eight assists, but with the exception of Torrey (Craig) we didn't get enough production from our perimeter players."
In all, the Spartans committed 19 turnovers which led to 22 points for Kennesaw State. Aside from Craig and Olumuyiwa's strong performances, the Spartans received solid performances from Mezie Uzochukwu (Greensboro, N.C./Northeast Guilford) who had 10 points as well as Chavis (8 points) and Glenn (7 points, 7 rebounds).
"Offensively we didn't take very good care of the ball tonight," added Payne. "We also failed to get the ball from side-to-side and we rushed key possessions which hurt us down the stretch. Our goal was to make them guard our ball reversals, make them guard extra passes, but we played like a very young team tonight."
Like so many times this season, Tony Dukes (Ellenwood, Ga./Atlanta Metropolitan) scored the first basket of the game for the Spartans as his triple from the left wing gave Upstate an early 3-0 lead. Upstate was able to maintain its early lead until the Owls went in front by a single point, 13-12, at the 12:24 mark.
The two teams battled throughout the first half with neither team owning a lead of more than seven points and there were six ties and seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes of action.
Kennesaw State had a trio of players score in double figures, Spencer Dixon (24), Kelvin McConnell (23) and Markeith Cummings (16).
The Spartans finished the game shooting 45.9% from the floor (28-61), but were just 27.3% from beyond the arc (6-22). Meanwhile, the Owls finished 28-for-55 (50.9%) from the field and connected on seven of their 18 three-point attempts.
Upstate led the way in points in the paint (40-30), second chance points (15-9) and bench points (16-7). Kennesaw State owned the advantage in points off of turnovers (22-19) and fast break points (6-2).
Upstate owned a five rebound advantage, 37-32, as the differential came on the offensive glass as the Spartans snagged 13 offensive rebounds compared to eight for the Owls.
The Spartans will continue its road swing as they travel to Macon, Ga., to face the Mercer Bears on Wednesday night with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. inside the University Center.