Spartans Outlast Eagles, Improve to 2-0 in League Play
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team closed out the Florida portion of its 10-day road trip with an 80-75 victory over Florida Gulf Coast Monday night inside Alico Arena.
Florida Gulf Coast (3-7, 1-1 Atlantic Sun) owned a 50-47 lead with 11:06 to play in the contest, when Dante Holmes connected on his lay-up. Adrian Rodgers (Alpharetta, Ga.) connected on a three-pointer and Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) gave Upstate (8-5, 2-0) a 52-50 lead with a lay-up with 10 minutes to play.
After the Eagles trimmed the Spartan lead to one, 55-54, Upstate used a 13-4 run over a span of 3:06 to take its largest lead of the game, 10 points (68-58), with 4:47 to play. Back-to-back threes by Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Rodgers as well as a steal and slam by Jodd Maxey (Statham, Ga.) highlighted the run.
FGCU got as close as three down the stretch, but Upstate made the most of their opportunities at the line as the squad claimed the five-point win. In all, the Spartans knocked down 23 of their 27 free throw attempts, an 85.2% mark, their best percentage of the year.
"We had some real clutch performances tonight, particularly Ricardo (Glenn) and Ty (Greene)," said head coach Eddie Payne. "Our team continues to do things that help us continue to win games, we made our free throws at the end of the game and we finished the game. There were some things we didn't do particularly well, but I feel as we continue to get smarter and manage possessions late in the game we will be able to continue to improve."
The Spartans were led by Greene's second straight 21-point performance as well as Glenn's second consecutive double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Seven of Glenn's rebounds came on the offense end of the floor.
"Coach (Payne) stressed to us at halftime that we weren't playing hard enough," Greene said. "They were getting all of the loose balls and he really challenged us to pick it up in the second half. I give all of the glory to God, he is what has gotten me to this point; but my teammates were getting me the ball and I did my best to make a play and help our team earn another win."
Bernard Thompson led the Eagles with 16 points, while Dante Holmes (15), Chase Fieler (12) and Sherwood Brown (10) also reached double figures.
"This is Division I basketball, if you are not ready to play in a league game then you will get beat, and tonight they (Upstate) were ready to play and they beat us," said FGCU head coach Andy Enfield. "(Ricardo) Glenn really did a number on us tonight, especially in the second half as he got put backs and got to the foul line and I think that was the difference in the second half."
The first half of Monday's contest was a back and forth affair, Upstate owned the largest lead of the half (6 points; 7:42 remaining). FGCU's largest lead of the first period was four points, which came with 57 seconds to play in the half.
After FGCU took a 5-2 lead just 1:42 into the contest, the Spartans used a quick 4-0 spurt to take its first lead of the game at 6-2. Greene connected on a three-pointer and Glenn sank one of two free throw attempts giving Upstate the one point lead with 16:22 remaining in the half.
After FGCU pushed its lead to three, 9-6, on Bernard Thompson's lay-up with 15:43 left in the first, Upstate used a 7-0 spurt to take a 13-9 lead with 12:57 remaining in the half.
Carter Cook (Winston-Salem, N.C.) was fouled on a three-point attempt and sank all three free throw attempts with 15:34 remaining in the half. Back-to-back dunks by Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga.) and Maxey gave the Spartans the four-point advantage (13-9).
FGCU and Upstate continued to battle back and forth and Christophe Varidel connected on a lay-up with 9:48 to play, tying the game at 17.
Upstate was able to take the largest lead of the half of either team, six points (23-17) with 7:42 remaining in the half thanks to jumpers by Glenn and Chalmers Rogers (Fort Mill, S.C.) and a pair of free throws by Glenn.
FGCU battled back to take a two-point advantage into the locker room at intermission.
Upstate will take a 12-day break from competition before returning to the hardwood at South Carolina on Dec. 31. Tip-off in Columbia, S.C., is slated for noon and will be broadcast live on SportsSouth.