JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – As the Spartans begin their second round through their Atlantic Sun Conference slate, the Spartans were unable to pick up their first ever sweep of ETSU as the Bucs claimed a 67-52 victory inside the MSHA Athletic Center on Tuesday night.
USC Upstate had two players reach double figures and Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga./Richmond Academy) nearly recorded his first career double-double, but it wasn't enough as the Spartans fell to 2-18 overall and 1-9 in league play.
"Our kids played hard tonight and did some good things tonight," said head coach Eddie Payne. "We had some unforced turnovers late in the first half allowing ETSU to go on a 7-0 run to close the half. We shot the ball very well at the free throw tonight as we missed just one, which is something we haven't done this season."
Upstate opened the game on a quick 4-0 spurt as Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central HS) and Torrey Craig (Rock Hill, S.C./Great Falls) both connected on their first field goal attempts as they attacked the rim and scored on layups.
In a half that was full of mini-runs, ETSU (14-8, 9-2) took a 6-4 lead with 16:33 remaining in the first half after scoring six points in a span of just 1:07.
The two teams battled throughout the first half with neither team gaining more than a four point advantage until late in the period. Upstate tied the game at 24-24 with 2:01 remaining, but a scoring drought the final two minutes and four turnovers allowed the Bucs to take a 31-24 lead into the locker room.
After the intermission, ETSU came out and pushed its lead to double-digits at 12 (36-24) as Mike Smith hit a three pointer and a jumper in the paint to spark the Bucs in the early moments of the second half.
The Bucs were able to keep the lead between seven and 12 points, until Mezie Uzochukwu (Greensboro, N.C./Northeast Guilford HS) scored on a layup after a scrum for the ball, cutting the ETSU lead to six, 55-49, with 3:36 remaining.
After the under four minute media timeout, ETSU was able to extend its lead to 10 and the Spartans never got any closer than eight points down the stretch. Free throws in the final minutes allowed the Bucs to claim the 15 point win.
"Our post players did a good job tonight getting rebounds but we weren't able to capitalize enough tonight in order to win the game." Payne added.
Craig and Carter Cook (Clemmons, N.C./Calvary Baptist Day School) paced the Spartans with 11 points. Craig recorded his 11th straight double-digit scoring performance on Tuesday night against ETSU.
The Spartans outrebounded the Bucs by nine (39-30) and also held the advantage in points in the paint (24-20), second chance points (16-2) and bench points (10-4). The Bucs converted 14 Spartan turnovers into 19 points, while the Spartans turned eight ETSU turnovers into 14 points.
ETSU had three different players score in double figures and were led by Mike Smith's 22 points. Adam Sollazo finished with 18, while Micah Williams finished with 16 points.
The Spartans will return to action Saturday afternoon when they host Mercer for homecoming. Tip-off between the Spartans and the Bears is slated for 2:00 p.m., and is part of a men's and women's doubleheader.