Spartanburg, S.C. – Jessica Conner scored 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and Stetson upset USC Upstate, 74-65, in A-Sun women's basketball action Saturday evening in the Hodge Center.
Stetson improved to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in the A-Sun with the win. Upstate fell to 7-6 overall and 4-1 in the league, suffering its first conference loss of the season. Upstate will play host to league leader Florida Gulf Coast Monday evening at 5:00 p.m. in the Hodge Center.
Stetson clogged the middle on defense to prevent Upstate's Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) from getting comfortable on the offensive end of the floor. The senior and A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year had no points and just three rebounds in the first half.
Despite not getting anything on the offensive end from McMillan in the opening half, Upstate took a 30-28 lead into the locker room, thanks to a 12-0 run to end the half. When Simone Taylor converted a layup with 5:13 to play in the half, Stetson led by 10, 28-18. However, Upstate covered the rest of the half with a 12-0 run, holding the Hatters scoreless.
Madisen Webb (Georgetown, Ky.) scored five-straight points in the run to get Upstate within three. Tee'Ara Copney hit a jumper with 59 seconds to play to get the Spartans within one and nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Upstate a 30-28 lead at the intermission.
Upstate extended its run into the second half with another three-pointer from Copney and a bucket from McMillan as the Spartans opened a seven-point lead, 35-28, capping a 17-0 run. The Spartans maintained a lead until Stetson fought back midway through the half.
Stetson cut the Upstate lead to one with 14:23 to play, but Upstate increased its lead to six points two minutes later. Stetson used an 8-2 spurt to tie the game at 47-47 with 9:24 to play in the game, but Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) answered with a three-pointer to put Upstate back on top.
Stetson used five-straight free throws, a layup from Conner and a three-pointer from Sasha Sims to open a seven-point lead, 57-50, with 5:29 to play. The hatters held Upstate scoreless from the 8:51 mark to the 5:18 mark of the second half to build its seven-point lead.
McMillan nailed a three-pointer to end the run and get Upstate within four, but it would be as close as the Spartans would get the rest of the way as Stetson held the Spartans off. The Hatters pushed the lead to 10 points with 2:52 to play and held a 12-point lead with 1:32 remaining before finishing with the nine-point victory.
Upstate shot 36 percent from the floor and connected on 7-of-19 (36.8%) from the three-point arc for the game. The Spartans were 16-of-24 (66.7%) from the free throw line. Stetson shot 44.4 percent from the floor and was 4-of-14 (28.6%) from the arc. The Hatters were 22-of-28 (78.6%) from the line.
Stetson held an edge in points off turnovers, which made a difference in the game as well. The Hatters turned the ball over just three fewer times than Upstate (23-20), but scored 10 more points off turnovers than the Spartans, holding a 25-15 advantage. They also outscored Upstate's bench, 33-18, for the game.
Copney led Upstate in scoring with 17 points to go along with four rebounds. McMillan posted her fifth-straight double-double and the seventh of the season, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four steals and two assists. McRoberts had a solid eight points and six rebounds, while Kyana Jacobs (Dale City, Va.) totaled eight points and five assists.
In addition to Conner's game-high 25 points, two other Hatters finished in double figures. Victoria McGowan chipped in with 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals, while Tierra Brown added 13 points, seven boards and five assists.