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SAN ANTONIO – The USC Upstate men's basketball team opened a season-long six-game road trip Saturday afternoon and let a double-digit lead slip away, falling 67-59 to the University of Texas San Antonio at the UTSA Convocation in non-conference action.
UTSA (3-1) runs its winning streak to three games after opening the season with a loss, while Upstate (1-2) drops its second straight road game of the season. The Roadrunners now hold a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series with the two teams set to meet again next month at The Hodge Center.
Leading for nearly every second of the first 34 minutes and a holding a 14-point advantage in the first half, USC Upstate let the lead slip away and the Roadrunners came surging back over the final six minutes to claim the eight-point victory in UTSA's home opener.
"We played well for an extended period of time," head coach Eddie Payne said following the game. "When they made the run I thought we panicked, had some bad possessions, some quick shots, and a good team on the road takes advantage of that and we lost the game."
The Spartans used hot shooting and timely defense to create an early lead. After UTSA took its only lead of the first half at 4-3, the Spartans stormed back with 12 straight points, capped by a three-pointer from Ty Greene to give Upstate a double-digit lead at 15-4 with 12:49 left in the first half.
The Upstate lead swelled to as many as 14 with 5:20 remaining when Torrey Craig banked in a trey from the top of the key to make it 26-12, but the Roadrunners came back firing and ended the half on a 13-3 run to cut the lead to just four at the break. UTSA got hot from long range, knocking down a trio of three-pointers to steal the momentum heading to intermission.
Both teams came out firing to open the second half and UTSA took a brief one-point lead at the 15:58 mark when Jeromie Hill hit a jumper to give the Roadrunners a 32-31 lead, but a Greene three-pointer just 12 seconds later handed the lead right back to the Spartans.
The lead changed hands four times with under 10 minutes to play in the game, but Kannon Burrage gave UTSA the lead for good at the 6:17 mark when he sparked a 6-0 run for the Roadrunners who pulled away late and led by as many as 12 before hanging on for the eight-point victory.
Craig ended the game with a season-high 27 points, going 10-for-22 from the field and 4-for-12 from long range to finish three points shy of his career-high.
Ricardo Glenn finished the afternoon 7-for-9 from the field for 14 points and one rebound shy of a double-double, grabbing a game-high nine boards.
Greene was the only other Upstate player in double figures, knocking down a trio of three-pointers and hitting on both of his free throw attempts to finish with 11 points and three steals in 32 minutes of action. The sophomore eclipsed the 400-point mark for his career with his 11-point performance and currently sits at 407 total career points.
Burrange was the undoing for Upstate, tallying a team-high 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He went 9-for-11 from the charity stripe and pulled down nine rebounds. Hill chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds, while Hyjii Thomas finished a point shy of double figures for the Roadrunners.
"Right now we just need to get a little more competitive on the glass," Payne said. "We are not doing a good job rebounding the ball and we are going to have to get a lot tougher to be successful. Our mindset is not where it needs to be."
Upstate returns to action next week, traveling to Santa Clara, Calif., for three games in the CBE Hall of fame Classic. The Spartans will take on tournament host Santa Clara Tuesday, Eastern Washington Wednesday and cap play Friday against Utah Valley.