Kennesaw, Ga. – Malik Moore scored a team-high 21 points for the Spartans but was not enough as the USC Upstate men's basketball team fell to the Kennesaw State Owls 84-79 in ASUN action Saturday afternoon from the KSU Convocation Center.
Upstate falls to 15-11 on the season and 5-4 in conference play, while Kennesaw State improves to 11-14 overall and 5-4 in the league.
Moore finished just shy of a double-double after also leading the team with eight rebounds, and led three players in double-figures along with Michael Buchanan and Mike Cunningham who both had 17 points.
Kendrick Ray scored a game-high 22 points for the Owls, and was joined by James Scott (18), Aubrey Williams (17) and Nick Masterson (10). Williams contributed a double-double after grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
- Buchanan and Josh Cuthbertson gave the Spartans an early 4-3 lead to begin the game with a pair of jumpers. The field goal by Cuthbertson with 16:35 left put Upstate in front by one.
- Kennesaw State followed with a 7-0 run over the next two minutes and went in front 10-4 at the 14:27 mark on a layup from Williams. Williams kept the Owls ahead by six two minutes later when his jumper made the score 12-6.
- Upstate was able to trim its deficit down to two points twice over the course of 1:20 before Kennesaw State extended its lead back to six, 20-14, with 8:15 remaining on a free throw by Scott.
- Buchanan answered by scoring the next five points for the Spartans and got them to within one, 20-19, at the 7:24 mark on his 3-point play.
- After Buchanan's layup with 5:49 to go put the score at 27-24, the Owls used a 9-0 run that covered nearly four minutes to go ahead by double-digits at 36-24 with 1:23 remaining on a dunk from Ray.
- Kennesaw State took its largest lead of the game at 38-25 with 29 seconds left before intermission on Ray's layup.
- Moore connected on a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to send Upstate into halftime trailing 38-28.
- The Spartans saw Moore and Jure Span team up for a pair of 3-pointers to start the second half and quickly cut the KSU lead down to 40-36 less than two minutes into the period.
- The Owls then went back in front by nine, 45-36, with 16:43 to go after Ray scored five straight points on a jumper and 3-pointer.
- Over the next three minutes, Upstate got as close as three points twice but Kennesaw State responded to push its lead back to seven, 56-49, on a layup by Williams.
- The Spartans stayed within striking distance over the following five minutes by cutting the Owls lead down to two points twice during that stretch. Moore's layup with 6:02 remaining made the score 63-61.
- Kennesaw State would then go on a 12-3 run that took up almost four minutes as Kosta Jankovic capped the run with a layup and gave KSU a 75-64 lead at the 2:19 mark.
- Upstate only got as close as five points over the last two minutes of the game as both teams combined for 13 points at the free throw line.
- Moore's layup with 10 seconds left put the final score at 84-79.
- The Spartans finished the game shooting 44.4 percent (28-of-63) that was highlighted by a 55.9 percent (19-of-34) mark in the second half. Upstate also made five of its 10 3-point attempts during that half.
- Kennesaw State had a team field goal percentage of 48.5 percent (32-for-66) for the game.
- The Owls held a 41-32 advantage in rebounds while the Spartans led 41-35 in points in the paint.
- Moore and Buchanan both made seven field goals, while Moore and Cunningham connected on five free throws.
- Cuthbertson, Cunningham and Ramel Thompkins each dished out three assists, while Thompkins added two blocks.
- Ray was 8-of-16 shooting for Kennesaw State and Tyler Hooker led all players with six assists.
- The lead changed hands a total of three times in the contest.
- Upstate wraps up its three-game road trip next week beginning on Thursday, February 9 at 7 p.m. against Jacksonville.