Upstate Women to Host Sparring Match with Catamounts
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (1-11, 0-2 A-Sun) returns home to the Hodge Center tomorrow night after a four-game road stint, hosting Western Carolina (4-8, 0-4 SoCon) at 7 p.m.
Western Carolina enters Monday's contest with a 4-8 record this season, including a 2-4 mark on the road. The Catamounts are 0-4 in Southern Conference play.
WCU is led by Kaila'Shea Menendez, averaging 11.2 points per contest. Rena Wakama and Caitlin Hollifield contribute 7.8 and 6.8 points per game, respectively. Hollifield leads the squad in rebounding, snagging 5.3 boards per contest. Alex Abraham is second on the team with 4.4 rebounds per game. Wakama leads the Catamounts in assists with 23 this year, while Ali Lane has handed out 21 assists.
Western Carolina is currently battling a six-game losing streak. In their last outing, the Catamounts lost 81-36 at Vanderbilt Dec. 29. Upstate dropped a 88-42 decision at Vandy Nov. 16. The Spartans are currently on a five-game skid after beating UNC Asheville 73-66 Nov. 30. The Catamounts also defeated Asheville 65-53 Nov. 16.
WCU owns a 5-3 overall advantage against the Spartans, including a 2-2 mark in Spartanburg, S.C. Upstate has won the last three contests against the Catamounts. In the teams' last meeting Dec. 1, 1997 in Spartanburg, S.C., Upstate claimed a 66-64 victory. Monday's contest will be the first match-up between the two teams in the Division-I era.
The Spartans wrap-up non-conference action this week, hosting Western Carolina tomorrow. Upstate's non-conference slate this season has 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.
The Spartans started a four-game road swing Sunday, Dec. 11 at Duke and closed out the road tour at Coastal Carolina Thursday, Dec. 29. The four-game span marked 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 win at UNC Asheville earlier this season snapped a six-game skid for Upstate 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.
Upstate is led by Copney with 15.1 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per contest. Junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and freshman Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.) are averaging 7.3 and 6.2 points per contest, respectively. Freshman Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) leads the squad with 6.0 boards per contest, after recording 17 rebounds at Coastal Carolina Dec. 29. Junior Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind.) is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.0 per 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.