Spartans Drop Overtime Heartbreaker to Furman, 85-80

Spartans Drop Overtime Heartbreaker to Furman, 85-80

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Despite leading by as many as 10 points late in the second half, the USC Upstate women's basketball team (4-7) dropped an 85-80 overtime decision to nearby Furman (4-7) inside the Hodge Center Saturday night, snapping a six-game skid for the Paladins.

The Spartans erased a seven-point deficit in the second half thanks to a 13-1 run, claiming a five-point advantage with 12:20 left in regulation. The Paladins managed to pull within one with 10:51 to go in the second half, but Upstate surged ahead with an 11-2 run to take a 63-53 lead with 5:41 on the clock.

Furman continued to chip away at the deficit, but Upstate maintained a seven-point lead (72-65) with 2:23 to play in the second half. The Paladins cut the score to 72-68 off of an old fashion three-point play from Teshia Griswold. A pair of free throws from Sarah Durdaller pulled FU within two (72-70) with just under two minutes to play. A missed Spartan layup and a defensive rebound from Holli Wilkins gave Furman the opportunity to knot things up with 51 seconds to play.

Offensive rebounds proved helpful for the Paladins at the end as they were able to extend their possession, allowing Griswold to score the tying layup. With the game knotted up at 72-72 and eight seconds on the clock, Upstate senior Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C.) started driving to the basket and was called for an offensive foul with 1.8 on the clock. The foul was Copney's fifth of the contest and the game went into extra minutes as FU held Upstate scoreless in the last 2:23 of regulation.

The game remained tight in overtime as the Spartans jumped out with a three-point lead off of trey from senior Hannah Ohl (Danville, Ill.). The teams exchanged points for a few minutes, but Upstate's last lead of the night was 80-79 with 1:29 to go. A made layup from Wilkins sent the momentum in Furman's direction, giving the Paladins an 81-80 advantage with just over a minute to play.

FU took a three-point lead with 28 ticks left off of a pair of free throws from Kaitlin Murphy. A Spartan turnover with nine seconds on the clock forced Upstate to foul, sending Murphy to the line again with three seconds left. She made the pair as Furman claimed the 85-80 overtime victory.    

On the night, the Spartans were led by Copney with 22 points, marking her fourth-straight double-digit scoring effort and her second consecutive 22-point outing. The senior was 3-for-5 from long distance and 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. She also swiped a game-high five steals, snagged five rebounds and handed out three assists.

In addition to Copney, three other Upstate players scored double-figures, marking the second time this season four Spartans have reached double-digits. Ohl and freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.) each posted 15 points, while senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) recorded a season-high 14 points.

Ohl drained four three-pointers on the night for the Spartans, while grabbing four boards. Starling was perfect from the line, going 5-for-5, while pulling down four rebounds. Smith was 10-for-12 from the free throw line, while grabbing four boards and dishing out a game-high six assists.

Furman also had a quartet of players score double-figures as Griswold led the way with 21 points to go along with eight boards. Wilkins posted 16 points and six rebounds, while Murphy added 14 points and collected a game-best five steals. Brittany Hodges recorded a double-double of 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Furman, while tallying a game-high four blocks.

The Spartans were plagued by turnovers as they recorded 28, compared to Furman's 16. Upstate now averages 24.9 turnovers per contest. The Paladins capitalized on that as they scored 26 points off of the Spartans' turnovers. Upstate scored just 15 points off of Furman's turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the game.

Furman also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Upstate 44-41. The Paladins had 18 second-chance points, while the Spartans had nine. Upstate shot 43.6 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from long distance, while FU was 39.2 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent from behind the arc. At the line, the Spartans were the best they had been all season, shooting 86.2 percent (25-for-29). The Paladins went 19-for-26 at the charity stripe for 73.1 percent.

The Spartans return to action Wednesday, Jan. 2 opening up Atlantic Sun Conference play by hosting ETSU for a 5 p.m. contest in the Hodge Center. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.