Upstate Drops Conference Opener to Northern Kentucky, 76-60
Spartanburg, S.C. – Melody Doss led all scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds as Northern Kentucky defeated USC Upstate 76-60 Thursday evening at the Hodge Center in the conference opener for both teams.
Upstate, playing at home for the first time since Nov. 19, 2013, falls to 5-7 on the season and 0-1 in the league, while the Norse improve to 5-7 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
Brittany Starling paced the Spartans offense with 15 points and seven rebounds as she finished 7-of-11 from the floor. Brittany Clency added 14 points, and Toni Romiti and Alex Stanford contributed nine each. Travonda Haddock and Valese McAllister joined Starling with seven rebounds.
Northern Kentucky began the game on an 11-3 run over the first 4:19 as Doss drained a three-pointer with 15:41 left. Doss later put the Norse ahead 15-3 following a three-point play.
Starling answered with five straight points to put Upstate down seven, 15-8, and then made it a five-point contest at the 12:26 mark. The Norse pushed their lead back to nine on back-to-back free-throws by Christine Rousch, but Romiti cut the advantage down to three at 23-20 following her three-pointers on consecutive possessions.
The Spartans limited Northern Kentucky to just one field goal over the final 6:59 of the first half as the Norse managed six free-throws from Kelley Wiegman. During that stretch, Upstate outscored Northern Kentucky 13-8 and went into the locker room down one, 34-33, after Haddock's layup with 29 seconds remaining.
Starling had 11 first-half points for the Spartans as they went 13-of-30 (43.3%) from the field and 5-for-8 at the free-throw line. The Norse were just 10-of-27 (37.0%) overall, but shot 12-for-13 (92.3%) at the charity stripe.
Northern Kentucky came out quickly to start the second half and stretched its lead to 38-33 in the first minute of play on baskets by Doss and Wiegman. Doss increased the Norse's lead to ten, 48-38, after back-to-back three's as Upstate managed just two field goals in the opening five minutes of the second half.
The Spartans were unable to capitalize offensively as Northern Kentucky took a 56-38 lead with 9:24 left on free-throws from Morgan Blair. Kaitlyn Gerrety and Lauren White put the Norse ahead 66-46 with their three-pointers three minutes later. White gave Northern Kentucky its largest lead of the contest, 70-46, following her field goal at the 5:03 mark.
Upstate ended the game on a 14-6 run over the final 4:53 to put the score at 76-60. Clency and Romiti scored the final six points on back-to-back three's.
The Spartans finished 40.7% (24-of-59) overall and was 7-of-16 (43.8%) at the free-throw line. The Norse posted a 43.1% (25-of-58) shooting percentage and went 19-for-22 (86.4%) at the line.
Upstate held a 13-9 advantage in second-chance points and 21-15 in points from the bench. Northern Kentucky led 36-26 in points in the paint and 13-11 in points off turnovers.
Doss went 9-of-17 from the field and was successful on all three of her three-point attempts. She was joined in double-figures by Wiegman (15) and White (10).
The Spartans host Lipscomb Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Follow Upstate women's basketball on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.