McMillan's Three-Pointer Lifts Upstate Over Florida Gulf Coast
Spartanburg, S.C. – On a night when Chelsea McMillan may have played her last game in a USC Upstate uniform, she certainly left the Hodge Center faithful with a lasting memory when she nailed a three-pointer with four seconds to play to lift Upstate to a thrilling come-from-behind victory, 75-74, to close out the A-Sun women's basketball regular season Monday night.
"I had confidence the whole time that I would make the shot if I was the one that was going to get to take it," said McMillan. "I was just thinking the whole time that I wanted to be the one to take the shot, I wanted the ball in my hands. It was big. It was a great way to go out if this was our last game."
McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla.) finished the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but the play everyone will remember is the three-pointer she nailed to lift the Spartans over FGCU, who came into the game having already clinched the regular season conference championship. The shot capped a maddening comeback as Upstate trailed by 17 points with 12:01 to play in the game and 10 points with 3:05 to play, but stormed back to take the win.
Upstate improved to 17-12 overall and 13-7 in the A-Sun with the win. The Spartans ended the regular season on Monday, but will await word on any possible postseason opportunity. Florida Gulf Coast ended the regular season with a 24-3 overall record and a 17-3 mark in the conference. The Eagles, as regular season champions but unable to earn a bid for to the NCAA Tournament in their final year in the transition to Division I, are likely to secure the A-Sun's bid to the WNIT.
The game was a close battle for much of the first half until FGCU used a 16-4 run to open a 37-27 lead with 3:25 to play in the first half. The Eagles went into the break with an eight-point advantage, 41-33.
FGCU held its eight-point lead with 16:38 to play in the game, then outscored Upstate 16-7 over the next 4:37 to open a 61-44 lead with 12:01 remaining. The Eagles looked in total control.
However, Upstate began to rally and McMillan started the comeback with an old fashion three-point play. The three points began a 12-0 Upstate run as the Spartans cut the lead to five, 61-56, with 9:09 to play. Five different Spartans scored in the run.
Eglah Griffin nailed a three-pointer to end the Upstate run and put FGCU up by eight with 8:45 to play. Her layup with 7:40 on the clock pushed the lead back to 10.
Upstate continued to battle and cut the lead to six on two occasions, the final on a jumper by McMillan with 4:29 to play. FGCU, though, was not done and when Courtney Chihil hit a three-pointer with 3:05 remaining, the Eagles led by 10 again.
Just as FGCU was not ready to give the game over to Upstate, the Spartans were not ready to lie down. Tee'Ara Copney (Ashville, N.C.) hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to seven. After an FGCU turnover, Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C.) converted a short jumper to cut the deficit to five.
After FGCU missed a three-point attempt, Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to get Upstate within three, 74-71, with 40 seconds to play in the game. FGCU missed another shot attempt, but came down with the rebound. However, Eagle Shannon Murphy's pass was stolen by Copney and Copney was fouled going in for the layup. She made one-of-two from the line to get Upstate within two, 74-72, with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
FGCU inbounded the ball and advanced it up the court until Sarah Hansen was fouled in front of the FGCU bench with 11 seconds to go. She stepped to the line to shoot the one-and-one, but missed the front end.
Copney grabbed the rebound and streaked down the court. The Eagle defense collapsed on her and she found McMillan on the left wing wide open. McMillan took the pass and drained the three-pointer to give the Spartans the lead at 75-74. Copney then put the game away when she came up with a steal with a second left on the clock.
McMillan walked off the parquet floor with her 18th double-double of the season and the 40th of her brilliant three-year career at Upstate. She stands eighth all-time in scoring with 1,288 points and fourth all-time in rebounds with 875.
McMillan was one of four Spartans to finish in double figures for the game. Copney tallied 14 points, four assists and five steals. McRoberts added a strong 13 points and six boards, while freshman Logan Catlebury (Seagrove, N.C.), in the third start of her career, finished with a career-high 11 points with four rebounds.
Griffin led FGCU with 22 points and seven rebounds. Hansen added 14, while Murphy and Nicoya Jackson each had 11 and 10, respectively.