Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate received double-double performances from Brittany Starling and Shelby Hicks on Saturday afternoon as it cruised to a 92-69 victory over Lipscomb at the Hodge Center.
The Spartans improve to 6-7 overall and 1-1 in the conference, while the Lady Bisons fall to 3-10 on the season and 0-2 in league play.
Upstate not only had career-high afternoons from several individuals, but also set new marks as a team. The 27 assists dished out by the Spartans are the most since joining Division I in 2007-08 while the 92 points scored are second. The 92 points are also the most points recorded against an Atlantic Sun opponent. It is also the most points scored by the team this season after opening the year with 87 in a win at Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Starling led all Upstate scorers as she compiled her seventh career double-double, and second of the season, with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor. Hicks earned her second double-double at Upstate, and the first this year, after coming off the bench to tie her career-high of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Brittany Clency added 16 points and a career-high seven assists, and Valese McAllister posted a career-high 15 points while matching her career-high of eight rebounds. Alex Stanford also tallied a new career-high in assists with a team-best eight.
Upstate never trailed by more than four points in the first half as it limited the Lady Bisons to 1-of-11 shooting behind the three-point line and 12-of-37 overall. After Kelli Smith's three put Lipscomb up 3-0 to start the game, the Spartans rallied with a 12-4 run over 5:06 to take a 12-7 lead on McAllister's layup.
The Lady Bisons answered with a 9-2 run to take the lead back at 16-14 with 11:47 left after Maya Dillard's jumper. Sara Bliss stretched Lipscomb's lead to 24-20 at the 7:32 mark, but that would be the largest lead it would hold the entire game.
Upstate tied the game at 24-24 on Hicks' basket with 6:32 left in the half, and would end on an 11-5 run to go into intermission with a 36-29 lead.
The Spartans took control in the second half as it scored 56 points on 54.8% (23-of-42) shooting to cruise to the 23-point victory.
The Lady Bisons cut their deficit to 36-33 to open the half on a jumper by Bliss and two free-throws from Danay Fothergill. Bliss later tied the contest at 42-42 following two free-throws, but Upstate would run away from Lipscomb after that.
Clency sparked a 17-2 run with 13 points over the next 2:37 to give the Spartans a 60-46 lead. Following a timeout, the Lady Bisons scored the next six points the cut the lead to eight. That would not affect Upstate as Toni Romiti and Raven Jefferson put it back in front by 14 with three consecutive field goals.
The Spartans held a double-digit advantage the rest of the way and took a 20-point lead, 85-65, after Clency's three with 3:21 left. Maddie Herr's free-throw with 1:13 remaining gave the Spartans their largest lead of the game at 92-65.
Upstate scored 60 of its 92 points in the paint while also holding the advantage in points off turnovers (15-13), second-chance points (19-11), fast-break points (21-0) and bench points (42-13).
The Spartans finished the game shooting a season-high 52.0% (39-of-75) from the field and Lipscomb was 26-of-78 (33.3%) overall.
Ashley Southern was one of three Lady Bisons to finish in double-figures as she had a team-high 18 points. Bliss added 11 points and Fothergill 10.
Upstate hits the road next week for two games beginning on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. against Stetson.
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