ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) sank two free throws with 3:38 remaining to give Upstate an 81-72 advantage over the homestanding UNC Asheville Bulldogs. However, the Spartans went scoreless down the stretch and Asheville closed the contest on a 16-0 run to claim an 88-81 victory Sunday inside Kimmel Arena.
Asheville (5-4) owned a 45-42 advantage at intermission and pushed its lead to as many as six in the early stages of the second half.
With the deficit sitting at four (57-53) with 14:31 to play, Upstate (6-3) used a 10-2 run to take a 61-59 lead with just under 12 minutes to play. The Spartan spurt was capped by Carter Cook's (Winston-Salem, N.C.) alley-oop to Babatunde Olumuyiwa with 11:47 to play in the second half.
Asheville's Jeremy Atkinson connected on two free throw attempts to tie the game at 67. The 12th tie of the contest came with 9:30 to play in the game.
After the two teams went nearly two minutes without a basket, Upstate's Mario Blessing (Kusterdingen, Germany) ended the Upstate drought and started a 14-5 run that saw the Spartans take a 81-72 lead with 3:38 to play. Six different Spartans scored during the run that lasted 4:05.
Asheville stormed back as the Bulldogs took the lead, 82-81, thanks to a 10-0 run that took just 1:15.
"I told our players they played a good game until the very end," said head coach Eddie Payne. "Today's game was one that we should have won, but we didn't make the right plays at the right time and that cost us a win today."
The Bulldogs tacked on six points over the final 1:12 of the contest to claim the 88-81 victory.
Each team had one player in double figures at halftime. Craig paced the Spartans with 15 first-half points, while Matt Dickey matched that total with 15 points of his own.
Upstate finished with two players in double-figures, Craig posted a career-high 28 points while Chalmers Rogers (Fort Mill, S.C.) finished with a career-best 10 points.
Dickey led the Bulldogs with 22 points, while Chris Stephenson and Jeremy Atkinson added 20 and 18, respectively.
Upstate will break for exams this week and will return to the hardwood next Sunday at Dayton. Tip-off between the Spartans and the Flyers is slated for 2 p.m. and the contest will air on Fox Sports Ohio.