SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team (7-17, 6-7 A-Sun) grounded Atlantic Sun Conference foe North Florida (9-16, 6-8 A-Sun) 71-65 tonight inside the Hodge Center, snapping a two-game Spartan skid.
For the third time this season, the Spartans were tied (31-31) at halftime. Upstate charged ahead in the second frame and took a 13 point lead (53-40) with 9:54 to play in the contest. The Ospreys refused to go away without a fight and chipped away at the deficit. UNF pulled within two points (65-63) with 1:52 left.
Upstate junior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) made a pair of free throws, putting the Spartans up 67-63 with 1:37 to play. Two made Osprey foul shots with 25 seconds to go, put the score at 67-65. The Final 25 second drug on as two more Spartans went to the line, sinking four shots from the charity stripe to put the final score at 71-65. The game saw five lead changes and things knotted up nine times.
The Spartans were led by junior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) with a career-high 19 points. She posted her previous career-best 16 points twice this season. She connected on 7-of-9 shots from the line. Freshman Paulina Zaveckaite (Telsiai, Lithuania) also registered a career-high with 16 points. She recorded 15 points at Coastal Carolina Dec. 29, 2011. The Lithuania center snagged six rebounds on the night, while Smith grabbed five boards and handed out a team-high four assists.
Copney and junior Hannah Ohl (Danville, Ill.) rounded out the double-figure scoring for Upstate, posting 11 points each. Copney also had four boards and three assists on the night. Other noteworthy Spartans include freshmen Shelby Hicks (Greeneville, Tenn.) and Briana Robinson (Columbia, S.C.). Hicks pulled down a team-high nine boards, while Robinson tallied eight points.
The Ospreys were led by Brittany Kirkland with 19 points and Jadhken Kerr with 11 points. Kirkland tallied her 1,500-career-point tonight, entering the contest seven points shy of the milestone. Raneisha Lamar grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while also totaling eight points. Larkira Jones was second on the squad with eight boards. Kirkland and Kim Baker dished out a team-best four assists apiece, while Baker also swiped a team-high three steals.
The Spartans shot 45.3 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from behind the arc. The Ospreys were 35.3 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from long distance. Upstate beat UNF at the line, shooting 76.0 percent from the charity stripe compared to 61.9 percent. The Spartans won the battle of the boards 41-39, while also edging them in the contest of second chances 9-8. Upstate outscored North Florida in the paint 24-22. However, UNF bested Upstate in points off of turnovers 24-15 and in bench points 19-14.
North Florida owns a 12-8 overall record against the Spartans. However, Upstate leads the series in Spartanburg, S.C., with a 5-3 mark. The Spartans haven't lost to the Ospreys since Jan. 15, 2011, when they dropped a 91-73 decision in Jacksonville, Fla. Earlier this season the Spartans edged North Florida 58-57 Jan. 14 in Jacksonville, Fla. Last season, Upstate beat UNF in Spartanburg, S.C., 78-65 Feb. 14, 2011.