ETSU Downs Upstate In A-Sun/CSS Game Of The Week, 88-67
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Freshman Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C./T.C. Roberson) scored 17 points to lead the USC Upstate women's basketball team but a hot-shooting ETSU team hit seven 3-pointers in the second half to help overtake the Spartans, winning a showdown between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the league, 88-67, to keep its shot at the Atlantic Sun Conference title still alive on Monday night at the MSHA Athletic Center in the A-Sun/CSS Game of the Week.
Copney, a leading A-Sun Freshman of the Year candidate, didn't disappoint, as she scored 17 points to lead Upstate (18-9 overall, 12-6 A-Sun), also adding five rebounds and four assists. She also added a block and an assist, but all five Lady Bucs (18-8 overall, 16-2 A-Sun) finished in double figures to help ETSU run away with the game in the second half, outscoring the Spartans by 19 points.
"It was a disappointing loss," Upstate head coach Tammy George said. "ETSU is a very good team and they proved it tonight, especially in the second half. We weren't able to do a lot of the things we normally like to do, and they got Chelsea (McMillan) in foul trouble and we never found a consistent rhythm."
Upstate tied the game at 34 with a layup by freshman Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) with the first bucket of the second half, but a layup from Gwen Washington was followed with a 3-pointer from Siarre Evans and ETSU never lost the lead again. With the score 43-42 with 15:12 left, the Bucs lighted up on a 23-5 run that occupied the next five minutes, putting the game out of reach. Upstate never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
The two teams fought back and forth early on, going through four lead changes before a jumper from Tarita Gordan ignited a 9-3 ETSU run that finished with a layup from TaRonda Wiles, giving ETSU an 18-12 lead with 10:32 left. Upstate fought back, though, going on its own 11-4 run led by senior Koko Richardson (Mary Esther, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.), who scored five points in the run, including a layup with 6:07 left that gave Upstate a 23-22 lead. The Lady Bucs answered by taking a five-point lead at 28-23 with 3:50 left, but Upstate tied the game with a 7-2 run thanks to a trey by McRoberts with 3:303 left. The teams exchanged buckets during the rest of the half, with a layup from Siarre Evans giving ETSU a 34-32 lead heading into the halftime.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, with Upstate shooting 32 (12-for-37) percent and ETSU firing at a 40 (15-for-38) percent clip. Richardson led all scorers with eight points while Wiles and Gwen Washington each had seven.
McRoberts notched nine points, six rebounds and two blocks and junior Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.) added eight rebounds and eight points in 17 minutes. Seniors Courtney Hawkins (Greer, S.C./Greer) and Richardson each added eight points and Richardson also added six boards and four steals. Sophomore Lesley Daniel (Collinwood, Tenn./Collinwood) added six points and five rebounds.
Washington led the Bucs with 18 points while Evans added 10 points and 18 rebounds. Wiles posted 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds and Tara Davis posted 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tarita Gordon added 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
The Spartans head home to wrap up the 2009 regular season in the final two games at the 36-year old Hodge Center, which will be completely renovated at the conclusion of the season. The Spartans kick off the homestand on Thursday when league-leading FGCU heads to the Hodge for a 7 p.m. game before finishing the year with a 3 p.m. game against Stetson on Saturday.
• The Spartans are 4-4 all-time on Feb. 22.
• Junior Chelsea McMillan is currently fifth in school history with 293 rebounds this season ... She is one rebound away from the fourth-place slot.
• Junior Chelsea McMillan is just two blocks away from becoming the second player in school history to block 50 shots in a season, where she would join Yakeeshia Ross (2002-06), who did it twice.
• Junior Chelsea McMillan is currently ninth in school history with 518 career rebounds ... She needs two rebounds to move into eighth.
• Freshman Tee'Ara Copney has 63 steals on the season, the third-most in Upstate's freshman record book.