Spartan Women Open Conference Play with Sunshine State Swing
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-8, 0-0 A-Sun) opens Atlantic Sun Conference play this weekend, traveling to Florida to take on Stetson (8-3, 1-0 A-Sun) Saturday, 17 at 1 p.m.
Stetson enters Sunday's contest with an 8-3 record this season, including a 3-0 mark at home and a 1-0 record in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
The Hatters are currently riding a two-game winning-streak, picking up victories at Georgia Southern (61-51) Dec. 8 and Bethune-Cookman (82-64) Dec. 11.
Stetson is led by Victoria McGowan and Shanasa Sanders, averaging 16.7 and 16.0 points per game, respectively. Sasha Sims posts a team-high in rebounding, snagging 8.4 boards per contest, while McGowan is second on the squad with 6.4 rebounds a game. Sims tallied 15 blocks on the season, while McGowan has 52 assists and 37 steals this year.
Earlier this season, Stetson put together a four-game winning-streak, which was snapped with a 77-62 loss at USF Nov. 28. The Hatters rebounded in their next contest, picking up a 68-60 win over A-Sun foe ETSU at home Dec. 1.
In the Hatters' last outing, they downed Bethune-Cookman 82-64 Dec. 11. McGowan flirted wtih a triple-double, finishing with a career-high 27 points plus nine rebounds and nine assists. Sanders added 20 points on the day, while Cherisse Burris contributed 11 points.
After falling to the Hatters twice last season, Stetson owns a 4-3 overall advantage over the Spartans, including a 3-1 mark in DeLand, Fla. In the teams' last meeting Feb. 7 in DeLand, the Hatters claimed a 80-76 victory. In the first contest between the two last season, Upstate dropped a 74-65 decision to Stetson in Spartanburg, S.C. The Spartans' last win against the Hatters came during the 2009-10 season (Feb. 27, 2010) with an 88-72 mark in the Hodge Center.
The Spartans look forward to opening Atlantic Sun Conference play this weekend after a tough non-conference schedule. Upstate's non-conference slate included a pair of contests against Southeastern Conference opponents in Vanderbilt and Auburn and another set of games against ranked Atlantic Coast Conference teams in then-No. 20/19 North Carolina and then-No. 6/5 Duke.
Upstate snapped a six-game skid earlier this season with a 73-66 win on the road at UNC Asheville Nov. 30 as junior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) posted a career-high 34 points. The win was the first of the season for the squad. The 0-6 start marked the first time the Spartans have dropped their first six contests of the season since the 2001-02 campaign, when they started the year 0-7. That season Upstate opened the season with a 72-67 loss to North Greenville Nov. 16, 2001. In this year's season-opener, the Spartans dropped a 75-57 decision to the Crusaders at the Hodge Center Nov. 11. This was the first time under head coach Tammy George that the Spartans posted a 0-6 record to start the season.
Upstate is led by Copney with 17.8 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per contest. Freshman Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.) and sophomore Kim Roach (Columbia, S.C.) are averaging 6.4 and 6.0 points per contest, respectively. Junior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) leads the squad with 5.3 boards per contest, while Paulina Zaveckaite (Gainesville, Fla.) is averaging 4.7 rebounds a game.
The Spartans were picked to finish seventh in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches' Poll and fifth in the A-Sun Preseason Media Poll. Copney was a unanimous Preseason All-Conference Team pick, after averaging 15.1 points per game last season. She also averaged 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.4 steals per contest.