FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Beall, firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team scored on its first 10 possessions Friday afternoon against Utah Valley University and never looked back, cruising past the Wolverines 75-50 at the Leavey Center on the final day of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
The Spartans (2-3) put an end to a three-game skid and pick up their first victory away from The Hodge Center in their last eight tries. Upstate is now 1-1 on the season in neutral site games and end the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at 1-2. The Wolverines (3-4) drop their second straight game and leave California with the same 1-2 record in the Thanksgiving week classic.
"This is obviously a much better performance from our guys," Head Coach Eddie Payne said. "We were much more consistent, better on the glass and those are the things that made us successful in the past and we had not been doing them lately."
The Spartans came out as focused as they have all year, scoring on their first 10 possessions of the game racing out to a 21-12 lead with 12:13 remaining in the first half. Over its first 10 trips down the floor, Upstate shot 90 percent from the field and put together the team's most explosive offensive spurt of the season.
"When you score early it is always easier to play defense," Payne said. "Our defensive effort and rebounding was there and over time I think that was the difference."
The Spartans kept the energy alive moments later when Babatunde Olumuyiwa was double teamed in the lane the junior found a wide open Jodd Maxey on the baseline who slammed home a dunk to bring the Upstate bench to its feet.
Maxey was at it again on the next possession when a missed running layup by Ty Greene came off the rim and the junior collected the rebound and slammed it home again to give Upstate its first double-digit lead of the game at 27-17 with 8:35 left in the half.
Upstate never cooled off from the field in the first half, knocking down 16 of its first 19 shots to race out to a 23-point lead at three different times in the first period before taking a 44-24 advantage into intermission.
"What you saw tonight was guys going after rebounds," Payne said. "It was a point of emphasis and our athleticism helped us, but we haven't been taking advantage of that so it was great to see. I am extremely proud of our team for bouncing back from a couple disappointing games."
The Spartans never took the foot off the gas in the second half, as Utah Valley came as close as 18 points on seven different occasions, but Upstate had an answer at every turn and kept the Wolverines caged for all 40 minutes of action to capture the 25-point victory.
"We were definitely badly in need of a win," Payne Said. "I think you have to give our team credit because they really responded to what we have talked about over the last two days."
Adrian Rodgers continued his dominant stretch, scoring 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor and averaging 16 points for the Thanksgiving classic.
Torrey Craig recorded the team's first double-double of the year with 19 points and adding a game-high 11 rebounds. Ricardo Glenn and Greene rounded out the Upstate players in double figures, finishing with 14 and 12 points respectively.
For the game, the Spartans shot 52 percent from the field and 38 percent from long range.
Upstate will now make the 2,500 mile trek back to the east coast and continue its current season-long six-game road trip next week, traveling to UNC Asheville for a Thursday evening date with the Bulldogs.
"Getting a win today was big, but now we have to go back to work and get ready for UNC Asheville," Payne said. "They have two years of NCAA Tournament experience under their belt and have that winning attitude so it will no doubt be a difficult game for us."
The 13th all-time meeting between the two schools is slated to tip-off at 7 p.m. from Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C.