Upstate Guts Out Victory Over Longwood
Spartanburg, S.C. – Despite trailing for most of the game, Upstate made a late push into the lead and gutted out a 61-57 victory over Longwood Wednesday night in non-conference women's basketball action in the Hodge Center.
Upstate improved to 8-8 on the year with the win, playing its final non-conference game of the season. The Spartans will resume A-Sun play this Saturday when Belmont comes to town for a 4:30 p.m. tip in the Hodge Center. Longwood fell to 3-13 on the year with the loss.
It took more than a half for Upstate to get things rolling offensively. The Spartans shot just 19 percent from the field in the first half, but trailed by only four at halftime. Upstate got it going in the second half, finishing the second 20 minutes shooting 43 percent as the Spartans rallied for the win.
"Anytime you shoot 19 percent and you're only down four at halftime, it's a good sign," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "Not only that, but we turned the ball over too many times. I thought we played pretty good defense, we just didn't shoot the ball well. It was just good to get a win and get some confidence back."
Upstate played 10 different players in the game and nine of the 10 scored in a balanced scoring attack. Seven of the nine players finished with at least four points. Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) led all scorers with 14 points and also dished out a game-high eight assists. Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va.) added 13 points and six rebounds for the Spartans.
Upstate fell behind early, but a pair of free throws by Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) gave Upstate a two-point lead with 17:20 to play in the first half. Longwood pushed back into the lead 50 seconds later and didn't relinquish it until the 14:48 mark of the second half.
Longwood used an 11-2 spurt to open an eight-point lead with 12:48 to go before halftime. Upstate cut the deficit to two with 9:07 to go, but the Lancers increased the lead to seven before settling for the four-point advantage at the break.
The lead grew to six points early in the second half, but Upstate made a push to regain the lead. The Spartans used a 9-0 run to open a three-point advantage and pushed it to four points with 14:01 to play in the game. However, Longwood came right back and regained the lead less than two minutes later.
Longwood used a 16-2 run to open a 10-point advantage with 6:42 to play and looked in control of the game. Upstate, though, made another big run that not only delivered the lead, but the win for the Spartans.
Wallace started things off with a jumper and Copney converted a layup with 4:27 remaining to put Upstate back on top, 56-55. The Spartans were not done. They built the lead to six points with 17 seconds to play while keeping Longwood off the board. The Lancers were held scoreless from the 6:42 mark until nine seconds remained in the game as Upstate's defensive effort in the final minutes won the game for the Spartans.
With Madisen Webb (Georgetown, Ky.) sitting out with a concussion and Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) limited due to an injury, freshmen Logan Castlebury (Seagrove, N.C.) and Kelci Freds (Warsaw, Ind.) stepped up and contributed key minutes. Castlebury tied her career high with six points, while Freds topped her career high and also finished with six points on the night.
"It was another good opportunity for other players to step up and play some big minutes for us," said George. "We are down numbers and Lauren was limited tonight. Logan and Kelci played some key minutes and gave us a spark. They brought a lot of energy and made some shots. Anytime you can see balanced scoring, it's a good thing. It was a good win."
Upstate finished the game shooting 30 percent from the field, but made 8-of-21 from the three-point arc. The Spartans were strong at the line, shooting 13-of-15 from the stripe. Longwood finished shooting 35 percent from the field, but made just 1-of-14 from the arc.
McMillan had a solid night despite getting double- and triple-teamed in the post. She finished with eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds. McRoberts finished with six points and six boards.
Krystal Garrison led Longwood with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Heather Tobeck came off the bench for 12 points and nine boards.