Spartans Defeat Owls, 68-53; Improve to 5-0 at Home
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) reached the 20+ point plateau for the eighth time this season to lead USC Upstate (9-7, 3-1 Atlantic Sun) to a 15-point victory over Kennesaw State (3-13, 0-5) Saturday afternoon inside the Hodge Center.
After KSU's Brandon Dawson gave the Owls an early 2-0 advantage at the 19:25 mark of the first half, Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) connected on a three-pointer with 19:03 remaining, sparking a 12-0 spurt for Upstate.
Aside from Greene's three points, Craig pitched in six points during the run, while Jodd Maxey (Statham, Ga.) added four as the Spartans took a 12-2 lead with 13:13 to play in the half.
Upstate pushed its lead to 15 (25-10) when Greene forced a turnover leading to a fast break lay-up by Mario Blessing (Kusterdingen, Germany) with 7:51 left in the first half. Upstate took its largest lead of the half, 17 (34-17), on a fast break dunk by Maxey. The Spartans took a 37-21 lead into the locker room at intermission.
By intermission Craig had found his way into the double-digit scoring column as he posted 15 points on a 6-for-7 effort from the floor and canned three of four three point attempts. He also grabbed six rebounds during the first 20 minutes of play on Saturday.
Craig opened this second half with a successful three-point attempt just 24 seconds into the half. Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) recorded the assist on Craig's triple that gave the Spartans a 40-21 advantage early in the second half.
Kennesaw State began to chip away at the Spartan lead as the team used a 17-8 run over the next 7:40 to close within eight points (46-38) when Markeith Cummings sank the second of two free throws with 11:10 to play.
Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Athens, Ga.) connected on a free throw with 7:49 to play, pushing the lead back to double-figures at 10 (52-42). The Owls were unable to trim the lead to single-digits down the stretch and Upstate claimed the 15-point victory over the Owls.
With Saturday's victory the Spartans are now 5-0 at the Hodge Center this season and since Upstate made the jump to Division-I in 2007-09, the club has won all five meetings against KSU in Spartanburg.
Craig finished the contest just two points shy of his first career 30+ point game as he connected on 10 of his 12 field goal attempts while sinking 5-of-7 three-point attempts. He also tallied his eighth career double-double and third of the season as he pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Aside from Craig's 28 points, the Spartans were paced by Maxey's career-high 14 points and Greene's 10 points. Olumuyiwa fell just short of a double-digit effort as he tallied nine points on a 4-for-6 effort from the floor.
Aaron Anderson led Kennesaw State with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Markeith Cummings pitched in 13 points.
The Spartans owned a 23-6 advantage in points off of turnovers and Upstate's bench outscored the KSU bench, 26-5.
Upstate will close out its two-game homestand Monday night when they host Mercer. The contest is the second game of a women's/men's doubleheader with the men's tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.