FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Beall, firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team put together a late rally Wednesday evening but came up short, falling 75-70 to Eastern Washington on day two of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Leavey Center.
The Eagles (1-4) pick up their first victory of the season in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, while the Spartans (1-4) drop their third consecutive game and seventh straight away from home.
Trailing by seven points at intermission and looking to make a second-half run, the Spartans rallied and tied the game, but Eastern Washington's red hot shooting from long range propelled the Eagles to their first victory of the season.
Upstate was a dismal 3-for-17 from behind the arc for 17 percent, while EWU sank 12 of its 24 three-point attempts and to outscore the Spartans by 27 points from long range.
"Statistically speaking, when you make just three of 17 three-pointers we are not going to be successful," Head Coach Eddie Payne said. "Despite that we had a chance to win and were able to do some good things."
Battling back in the second half and absorbing every blow by the Eagles, Upstate pulled even with 2:38 remaining when Torrey Craig launched from 25 feet and hit to make it 67-67.
Eastern Washington would score on the ensuing possession to take a two-point lead. On the next trip down the floor Upstate had two chances to jump out in front, but as was the story all night, the Spartans missed on back-to-back three-pointers and the Eagles held on for the five-point victory.
"We are not to the point where we have that extra ounce of energy to get over the hump in some of these games so we have to continue to work and get there," Payne said. "We had some good moments, but we have too many lapses from an energy perspective."
Eastern Washington could do little wrong early, as they hit seven of their first 11 three-point attempts and raced out to a double-digit midway through the first half.
Upstate held the Eagles scoreless over the final four minutes of the first half and used back-to-back buckets from Craig and Babatunde Olumuyiwa to pull the Spartans to within seven at 37-30 heading to intermission.
Upstate opened the second half and quickly cut into the Eagles' lead when Jodd Maxey scored four straight points and trimmed the EWU lead to just a point at 43-42 with 14:32 left, but the Spartans were unable to take the lead and trailed by as many as seven before tying the game in the final minutes.
Rodgers paced the Spartans with a season-high 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field to lead four Upstate players in double figures. Craig continued his stretch of double-digit scoring games with 14 points, while Blessing and Maxey added 10 apiece.
Upstate will have Thanksgiving off before returning to action Friday afternoon against Utah Valley to finish play at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Tip-off against the Wolverines is slated for 2 p.m. locally and 5 p.m. EST.