Spartans Survive Late Gamecock Rally, Improve to 14-9
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – After Jacksonville State cut the Spartan lead to just two, 79-77, with 17 seconds to play, USC Upstate freshman Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) sank three of four free throws to close out an 82-77 victory for the Spartans Monday evening inside the Pete Matthews Coliseum.
"We didn't guard particularly well tonight, but every time you play a team that utilizes a different style of play you are going to run into problems," said head coach Eddie Payne. "We were in control of the game late, but then we miss some free throws and they got within two. But all-in-all, it is difficult to win a non-conference game on the road, so we will take it and our kids are excited about another win. Now we will have to rest up and begin working for a pair of conference road games this weekend at Mercer and Kennesaw State."
Upstate (14-9) opened the second half on a 5-0 spurt as they increased their three-point halftime lead to eight at 45-37 with 18:31 to play. Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) started the run with a lay-up just 13 seconds into the half. Craig's basket at the 19:47 mark gave him 11 points on the night and he becomes the first Upstate player of the Division I era to tally double-figures during every game in a single month. He is also the first player since Charleston Long (Jan. 2005) to accomplish the feat.
After Carter Cook (Winston-Salem, N.C.) connected on a fast break jumper, putting the Spartans in front 56-49 with 11:21 to play, the Gamecocks (9-15) used a 7-0 run over a span of just one minute to tie the game at 56 with 10:02 showing on the clock. Tarvin Gaines scored five of JSU's seven points during the run.
JSU again tied the contest, this time at 64-all on a Ronnie Boggs lay-up with 5:51 to go.
Upstate used a 7-0 spurt to take a 71-64 lead with just over four minutes remaining. During the run, Greene and Chalmers Rogers (Fort Mill, S.C.) each connected on a pair of baskets in the paint, while Mario Blessing connected on one of his three triples.
Upstate pushed its lead to eight on three different occasions in the final three minutes and led by seven with 40 seconds to play.
After a pair of free throws by Greene put the Spartans ahead 79-72 with 40 seconds left, JSU made one final run at the visiting squad.
Tarvin Gaines connected on a three-pointer and Nick Cook sank two free throws to narrow the gap to two points (79-77) with 17 seconds to play. Greene made one of two free throws and following a missed three pointer by Tarvin Gaines with five seconds left, Greene was fouled and sent to the line again. The freshman sank both free throws and the Spartans closed out their non-conference season with a 7-6 mark.
The Spartans shot 63.8% (30-of-47) from the floor, its best mark of the season. The squad's previous high came against Texas State in the UTPA Tip-Off Classic (57.4%, Nov. 20). Upstate also finished 77.8% (7-of-8) from beyond the arc and 15-23 at the line (65.2%).
Meanwhile, JSU finished 26-for-56 (46.4%) from the floor and 8-of-23 (34.8%) from beyond the arc. The squad finished 17-for-22 at the line for a 77.2% mark.
Greene led a quintet in double-figures with 17 points behind a 4-for-9 effort from the floor and a 7-for-8 effort at the line. Craig pitched in 15 points after a 5-of-6 effort, while Adrian Rodgers (Alpharetta, Ga.) finished a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor to tally 13 points. Blessing and Ricardo Glenn (Augusta, Ga.) each totaled 11 points Monday.
Brian Williams led the Gamecocks with 21 points after a 9-for-14 performance from the field, including three triples.
The two teams battled back and forth during the first half as there were a total of 12 lead changes and four ties.
Upstate will return to action Saturday afternoon when it battles A-Sun leader Mercer at 4:30 p.m.