Spartans Stay Undefeated In A-Sun Play, Down Kennesaw State
Kennesaw, Ga. – Chelsea McMillan posted her third-straight double-double and USC Upstate remained undefeated in A-Sun play by taking a 75-67 victory over Kennesaw State Monday night in the KSU Convocation Center.
McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) finished with a season-high 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds to lead the Spartans to the win. It was the third consecutive double-double and the fifth of the season for the senior and A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year. She helped the Spartans beat Kennesaw State in Kennesaw for the first time since Dec. 18, 1993, a span of nine-straight losses.
Upstate improved to 6-5 overall and 3-0 in the A-Sun with the win. The Spartans travel to Macon, Ga., Wednesday evening to take on Mercer at 5:00. Kennesaw State fell to 3-8 overall and 0-3 with the loss.
"This was a very big win for us," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "W got off to a good start with a couple conference wins at home. Getting that first win on the road was really good for us."
Despite the virtuoso performance from McMillan, the game was sloppy from the outset. The teams combined for 41 turnovers in the first half alone and finished the game combining for 61 miscues.
Upstate, though, made the difference at the free throw line and the limiting the damage from turnovers in the first half. Upstate made 24-of-25 from the free throw line on the night, including a perfect 14-for-14 in the first half. The Spartans also committed 20 turnovers in the first half, but only allowed Kennesaw State to score six points off of those turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
Upstate took an early lead, but watched Kennesaw State fight back to open a five-point lead with 16:39 to play in the first half. The Spartans, though, used a 19-6 run over the next six minutes to open an eight-point advantage, 25-17, with 10:31 to go.
With the lead at four, Upstate used a 6-0 run to open its first double digit lead with 6:27 to play and stretched the advantage to 13, 40-27, with 4:22 to play before the intermission. That's when Upstate's potent offense came to a halt. The Spartans failed to score for the remainder of the half and took a seven-point lead, 40-33, into halftime.
McMillan came up huge for Upstate in the first half. She turned in 14 points and five rebounds to lead the Spartan cause. Upstate also shot nearly 43 percent from the field while holding Kennesaw State 23 percent shooting in the half.
Upstate continued its scoring drought in the second half. It wasn't until Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) nailed a short jumper with 17:45 to play in the game that the Spartans got on the board again, a span of 6:37 of scoreless ball. Upstate, though, maintained its lead throughout the drought.
Kennesaw State managed to cut the Upstate lead to one, 42-41, with 16:14 to play in the game. A Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va.) three-pointer and a traditional three-point play from McMillan pushed Upstate's lead to seven points.
Upstate extended its lead to 14 points on two different occasions and looked in control of the game. Kennesaw State would not go down without a fight, however.
Kennesaw used a 10-0 run to cut Upstate's lead to four points, 62-58, with 5:20 to play. Kyanna Jacobs (Dale City, Va.,) converted a three-point play to give the Spartans a seven-point lead and McMillan scored five-straight after Kennesaw State cut the lead to three to keep the Spartans in the lead. Upstate made 4-of-5 free throws in the final 1:08 to preserve the win and improve to 3-0 in the A-Sun.
"Chelsea is our go-to player," said George. "We have to get her the ball. She made some baskets for us all night. That three-point play late in the game was big.
"Free throw shooting sealed the game for us. We hit some big free throws. We stepped to the line with confidence and knocked them down."
Jacobs, who scored a career-high 10 points last Thursday against Coastal Carolina, posted another career-high, finishing with 17 points. She was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. McRoberts finished the game with 12 points to place three Spartans in double figures for the game.
Angie Smith led Kennesaw State with 18 points, five rebounds and five steals. Brandi Jones added 12 points, while Sametria Gideon added 10 points. Tamasha Bolden recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.