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DELAND, Fla. – Shooting just 35.8 percent from the floor and 58.3 percent from the line, the USC Upstate women's basketball team (9-15, 5-8 A-Sun) dropped a 79-55 decision at Stetson (18-6, 11-2 A-Sun) Monday evening inside the Edmonds Center in Atlantic Sun Conference action.
The Hatters led wire-to-wire as the Spartans dropped to 10-3 when their opponents score first and Stetson improved to 8-4 in the all-time series against Upstate. SU opened the contest with a 15-2 run and never looked back, taking a 48-23 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
The Spartans were just 37.5 percent (9-for-24) from the floor in the opening frame and 20.0 percent from behind the arc (1-for-5), compared to Stetson's 65.4 field goal percentage (17-for-26) and 55.6 percent (5-for-9) mark from long range. Typically one of the top free throw shooting teams in the A-Sun, Upstate struggled from the line, shooting 40.0 percent from the charity stripe in the first half. The Hatters, on the other hand, connected on 9-of-10 attempts at the line to shoot 90.0 percent in the opening frame.
In the second half, Upstate did a little better and managed to outscore SU 32-31, but it wasn't quite enough to overcome the first-half deficit as Stetson claimed the eventual 79-55 win. On the night, the Spartans went 19-for-53 from the floor to shoot 35.8 percent and 3-for-11 from long distance for a 27.3 percentage. This marked Upstate's worst field goal percentage since shooting 32.8 percent in a 72-55 loss at Mercer Jan. 19. The Hatters shot 53.7 percent (29-for-54) from the floor and 43.8 percent (7-for-16) from three-point range.
Stetson also bested Upstate at the line, connecting on 14-of-19 attempts for a 73.7 free throw percentage. The Spartans went 10-for-14 in the second half, improving their overall freebie percentage on the night to 58.3 percent (14-for-24). This was Upstate's second-worst game at the line all season as the Spartans posted a 53.3 free throw percentage in a 77-67 loss to High Point Dec. 16.
Stetson outscored Upstate in the paint 38-28, while also claiming the contest of second chances 5-2. The Hatters won the battle of the boards 37-29, while the scoring competition between the benches was a draw at 17-17. Upstate committed 16 turnovers, while Stetson turned the ball over 15 times. However, SU capitalized on the Spartan miscues, scoring 16 points off of turnovers, while Upstate scored 11 points off of Stetson hiccups.
On the night, the Spartans were led by freshman Brittany Starling (Sumter, S.C.), tallying 12 points with 10 coming in the first half alone. She also snagged a team-best six rebounds, while senior Tyra Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and freshman Brittany Clency (Greensboro, N.C.) each added nine points for Upstate. Smith handed out two assists to go along with two rebounds, while Clency swiped a team-best and career-high three steals.
Upstate freshman Travonda Haddock (Pollocksville, N.C.) tied her career-high eight points, which she recorded against George Washington Nov. 21 and then again at FGCU Feb. 9. The rookie also grabbed four boards, while swatting a team-high two blocked shots.
The Hatters were led by a quartet of players scoring double figures as Shanasa Sanders led the way with 23 points. Victoria McGowan recorded 13 points, while Cherisse Burris and Jama Sharpp added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Sanders pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, while McGowan and Burris each grabbed five. McGowan handed out a game-best four assists.
The Spartans return to action Saturday, Feb. 16, hosting A-Sun opponent Kennesaw State for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off as Upstate celebrates Senior Day. The KSU game will also be Upstate's PinkZone contest, as the Spartans join the fight against Breast Cancer. Follow Upstate women's basketball this season on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.