Balanced Spartan Attack Downs Mercer
Spartanburg, S.C. – Three Upstate Spartans finished in double figures and Kyana Jacobs nailed some key three-pointers as Upstate took a 74-63 victory over Mercer Saturday evening in A-Sun women's basketball action in the Hodge Center.
Upstate improved to 11-9 overall and 7-4 in the A-Sun with the win. The Spartans will battle A-Sun rival Kennesaw State Monday evening at 5:00 in the Hodge Center. Mercer fell to 1-19 overall and 1-10 in the league with the loss, dropping its 14th game in a row.
Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) led Upstate with 17 points and 14 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season. Tee'Ara Copney finished with a game-high 18 points with nine boards and three assists, while Jacobs (Dale City, Va.) turned in 11. Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) added nine points and seven rebounds. Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C.) added a strong seven points and a career-high nine rebounds.
Jacobs came up huge for Upstate in the second half. The freshman entered the game without making a three-pointer on the season, though she also had taken just eight attempts. She nailed three three-pointers, all in the second half, to help push the Spartans over the top.
Jacobs' first trey came at the 19:05 mark of the second half to cut Mercer's lead to three points. Her second three turned a one-point Mercer lead into a two-point Upstate advantage with 12:42 to play. Her final three-pointer gave Upstate a seven-point advantage with just under 2:00 to play in the game.
"Kyana made some big shots for us tonight," said Upstate head coach Tammy George. "All three of those shots were huge and we needed them. With Mercer being in the zone the whole game, we needed someone to step up and make some shots for us, and Kyana did that for us tonight."
With the help of Jacobs, a solid defensive effort and strong shooting in the second half, Upstate turned a 30-26 deficit at halftime into an 11-point victory.
"I think we started it on the defensive end," said George. "Sharniece came in and gave us a big spark. We struggled in the first half to make some shots, but we started to hit some in the second half. We played more as a team tonight. We shared the basketball and made the extra pass. We looked like a team out there tonight."
Upstate fell behind by six points early in the second half before Jacobs' first three-pointer cut the lead to three. The Spartans continued to battle and tied the game with 13:56 to play. They took their first lead of the second half with 13:17 to play and the lead for good 35 seconds later.
Upstate used an 8-0 spurt to open a seven-point lead with 11:45 to play and held the advantage with 9:47 on the clock. However, Mercer ran off five-straight points to get within two, 58-56, with 7:48 remaining. The Bears cut it to one, 60-59, on Rebecca Clanton's three-pointer. However, Upstate stretched out the lead to four points and Jacobs' final three-pointer gave Upstate the cushion it would need to hold off Mercer for the win.
Upstate started quickly in the game and held an 8-2 lead early on. Mercer fought back to take a five-point advantage with 11:12 to play before Upstate rallied to grab the lead, 19-17, with 6:53 to go before the break. Mercer, though, used a 7-0 run to open a 24-19 lead with 3:17 to go and went into halftime with a 30-26 advantage.
Mercer shot 43 percent from the floor and 46 percent from the three-point arc for the game. Upstate, coming off its worst offensive performance of the season Wednesday night at ETSU, shot a respectable 38 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the arc. The Spartans also dished out 19 assists on the night.
Briana Williams, who entered the game as the A-Sun's leading scorer, finished with a team-high 17 points to lead Mercer. Brittnee Hazel added 13 points and eight rebounds, while Clanton finished with 12 points.