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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team got back to its winning ways at home Thursday evening, holding off a late North Florida rally to pick up a 63-57 victory in the Hodge Center in Atlantic Sun Conference action.
The Spartans (10-10, 4-3 A-Sun) have now won 18 of their last 21 games inside the Hodge Center and move to 11-7 in the all-time series with North Florida, while the Ospreys (8-13, 3-5 A-Sun) drop their second straight contest and four of their last five.
"We need to get better playing with a lead, but all in all we needed the win and needed to get it going," said Upstate Head Coach Eddie Payne. "It was great to see the interior players step up a little bit and we are certainly glad to get a win over a good North Florida team."
The first half featured five ties and nine lead changes as the Spartans and Ospreys traded blows over the first 10 minutes. After Beau Beech knotted the score at 26-26 with 7:31 left in the opening period, Upstate clamped down on defense and went on a game-high 9-0 run, capped by a dunk from Jodd Maxey to give the Spartans a 35-26 advantage.
The Ospreys went on a run of their own to close the half however, as seven straight points from UNF, including a jumper at the buzzer from Will Wilson, cut the Upstate lead to just two at 35-33 heading to intermission.
The Spartans opened the second half and slowly pulled away over the first nine minutes and eventually took a game-high 10-point lead with 11:21 remaining on a three-pointer from Torrey Craig to make it 49-39. The Double-digit lead proved to be the largest of the night for Upstate, as UNF made just enough shots to hang around and make it interesting.
The Ospreys would claw back over the final five minutes of regulation and cut the Spartan lead to just four at 58-54 with 2:19 remaining, but Upstate had an answer on the following possession as Ricardo Glenn muscled home a layup with 1:44 left to push the lead right back out to six points.
While the Spartans struggled from the charity stripe with 12 missed attempts, Adrian Rodgers sealed the game on a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, giving Upstate a 63-57 victory.
Glenn paced the Spartans with 14 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for his team-high fifth double-double of the year, while Craig was the only other Upstate players in double figures with a dozen points and five rebounds.
Maxey continued to knock on the door of his first double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds and adding nine points and a career-high five blocks. The junior is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game over his last three contests.
Ty Greene struggled from the field, but he drilled two of his five three-point attempts and finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes of action.
Upstate held Parker Smith, the A-Sun's third leading scorer, to 10 points on 2-for-7 shooting from long range, while he connected on just four of 12 attempts from the field.
The Spartans will continue a stretch of five consecutive home games and three contests in five days on Saturday when Upstate plays host to Jacksonville. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. inside the Hodge Center and will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN3.