Upstate Women’s Basketball Finish Sunshine State Tour at Florida Gulf Coast
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-9, 0-1 A-Sun) continues its Sunshine State swing with its second Atlantic Sun Conference game of the season tomorrow at Florida Gulf Coast (6-1, 1-0 A-Sun) with a 5:15 p.m. tip-off.
Florida Gulf Coast enters Monday's contest with a 6-1 record this season, including a 4-0 mark at home and a 1-0 record in A-Sun play. The Eagles are currently ranked No. 4 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
The Eagles are riding a six-game winning-streak with their only loss of the season coming at BIG EAST Conference opponent Seton Hall in the season-opener Nov. 11 by a score of 57-51.
FGCU is led by Nicoya Jackson and Sarah Hansen, averaging 14.3 and 13.6 points per game, respectively. Hansen posts a team-high in rebounding, snagging 8.6 boards per contest, while Courtney Chihil is second on the squad with 4.7 rebounds a game. Jackson also leads the Eagles in assists, handing out 30 on the season, while Whitney Knight has a team-best 15 blocks on the year.
In FGCU's last outing, the team picked up a 75-36 victory at Central Florida Dec. 8. Hansen led the team with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Eglah Griffin added 18 points. The Eagles opened A-Sun play with an 88-60 win over ETSU at home Dec. 3. Kelsey Jacobson led FGCU against the Buccaneers with 24 points, while Jackson recorded 20 points.
FGCU owns a 5-2 overall advantage against the Spartans, including a 4-0 mark in Fort Myers, Fla. In the teams' last meeting Feb. 28 in Spartanburg, S.C., the Spartans claimed a 75-74 victory. In the first contest between the two last season, Upstate dropped a 70-59 decision to the Eagles in Fort Myers, Fla., Feb. 5.
The Spartans are 1-6 on the road this season. They started a four-game road swing Sunday, Dec. 11 at No. 6/5 Duke and continue the road games, heading to the Sunshine State for two games. Upstate took on Stetson Dec. 17, before traveling to Florida Gulf Coast Dec. 19. The Spartans close out the road tour at Coastal Carolina Dec. 29. The four-game span marks the longest away stint for Upstate this season. Earlier this year, the team had three-straight road games, where the Spartans dropped decisions to then-No. 20/19 North Carolina (Nov. 13), Vanderbilt (Nov. 16) and Radford (Nov. 19). Upstate set out again for a two game stint, traveling to Auburn (Nov. 27) and UNC Asheville (Nov. 30). The Spartans picked-up their only win of the season on the road at Asheville with a 73-66 victory.
The Spartans look forward to opening Atlantic Sun Conference play with a pair of contest in Florida 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 16.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per contest. Junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and freshman Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.) are averaging 6.3 and 6.2 points per contest, respectively. Junior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) leads the squad with 5.4 boards per contest, while Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) is averaging 4.3 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.