Asheville, N.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team received double-digit scoring efforts from Brittany Starling, Sharmayne Edwards, Shelby Hicks and Brittany Clency on Saturday afternoon as it defeated the UNC Asheville Bulldogs 67-66 in non-conference action at Kimmel Arena.
The Spartans improve to 4-5 on the season while the Bulldogs even their record at 4-4. With the win, Upstate head coach Tammy George earned her 150th career coaching victory.
Starling led all scorers as she finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds, and Edwards added 14 points off the bench. Clency was just shy of a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Hicks tallied 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
The opening five minutes saw the scored tied twice until the Spartans held a 6-5 lead on two free-throws from Starling. Following the two free-throws, UNC Asheville went on a 13-2 run to lead 18-8 at the 11:09 mark on Leah Wormack's jumper. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 22-11 two minutes later after Ja'Da Brayboy's jumper.
Upstate stepped up defensively over the final 9:59 limiting UNC Asheville to just three points and ended the half on an 11-3 run to go into the locker room down 25-22. Edwards made it a 22-15 game on her fast break layup, but the Bulldogs answered with a three-pointer by Shonese Jones to push it back to a 10-point game.
Edwards and Toni Romiti followed with a jumper and three-pointer to cut the Spartans' deficit to 25-20 with 3:38 left in the half. Hicks provided the half's final points on two free-throws to make it 25-22 at the 1:21 mark.
Upstate finished the first half 7-of-25 (28.0%) from the floor and 2-of-6 (33.3%) behind the three-point line. The Spartans were a perfect 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. UNC Asheville was 10-of-26 (38.5%) overall and 3-for-10 (30.0%) beyond the three-point arc. The Bulldogs were also 2-of-6 at the charity stripe.
Edwards led Upstate with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, while Starling added six points and three rebounds. Tianna Knuckles had a team-high seven points for UNC Asheville.
Travonda Haddock made it 25-24 on her jumper to start the second-half for the Spartans. The Bulldogs answered with an 8-0 run to lead 33-24 following Warmarck's field goal, but then saw their lead dwindle as Clency tied the game 35-35 after her jumper at the 12:44 mark.
Starling gave Upstate its first lead of the half, 37-35, on her layup and Clency pushed it to 40-36 the next possession. After Edwards gave the Spartans a 42-38 lead, UNC Asheville fought back to take a 50-48 lead with 7:52 on a three-pointer by Jones. The two teams traded leads three times over the next two minutes until two free-throws by Clency put the Spartans ahead 58-54 with 3:57 left.
Upstate held its largest lead of the game at 64-59 with 2:09 remaining in the game until a quick three-point swing by the Bulldogs made it a two-point contest. Clency put the Spartans back in front the following possession with her field goal, but UNC Asheville trimmed the lead to 67-66 with 15 seconds left.
The Bulldogs had three chances in the final seven seconds to score the game-winning basket, but the Upstate defense prevented it from happening. UNC Asheville's final attempt with less than one second remaining was blocked by Clency lifting the Spartans to the thrilling victory.
Upstate concluded the game shooting 38.7% (24-for-62) overall and 16-of-19 at the charity stripe for an 84.2% clip. The Bulldogs were 20-for-59 (33.9%) from the field and 21-of-30 (70.0%) behind the free-throw line.
The Spartans led in second chance points (22-15), fast break points (8-7) and points from the bench (36-27). Upstate and UNC Asheville tied 26-26 in points in the paint.
Jones paced the Bulldogs offensively with 13 points, and was joined in double figures by Wormack with 10 and Brittany Gwyn's 12.
The Spartans return to action Sunday, Dec. 15 when they travel to Blacksburg, Va. to take on Virginia Tech at 2 p.m.
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