Jacksonville, Fla. – Brittany Clency scored a career-high 20 points Thursday evening as USC Upstate improved its winning streak to four games after defeating the North Florida Ospreys, 62-51, in Atlantic Sun women's basketball action at UNF Arena.
The Spartans improve to 10-9 overall and 5-3 in the league, while the Ospreys fall to 5-14 on the season and 1-7 in conference play. Upstate has now won four games in a row for the first time since the 2011-12 season when it was victorious over UNF, Lipscomb, Belmont and East Tennessee State.
Clency's 20 points were highlighted by a 9-for-9 performance at the free-throw line, while also contributing three assists, two blocks and one steal. She was joined in double-figures by Sharmayne Edwards with 16 points and Valese McAllister's 12. Brittany Starling led the Spartans with eight rebounds.
Upstate opened the game with a 6-2 run as North Florida missed both of its field-goal attempts and turned the ball over three times. UNF cut its deficit to 6-4 at the 14:19 mark, but Upstate answered with four straight points on Clency's three-pointer and a free-throw by Starling to lead 10-4.
Edwards gave the Spartans an 11-point advantage, 17-6, with nine minutes left on her three and would hold a double-digit lead for the next three minutes. McAllister put Upstate in front 21-8, its largest lead of the game, with her layup.
The Ospreys answered with a 9-0 run over 2:23 to make it a 21-17 contest with 4:13 remaining after Ki Conner connected on a layup. The Spartans responded with four consecutive points from Clency and McAllister to push their lead back to eight at 25-17. North Florida came back to within four with 1:27 left until two field-goals from Edwards and McAllister gave Upstate an eight-point cushion at 29-21.
Brittney Wright sent the Ospreys into the locker room down 29-23 after her buzzer-beating jumper.
North Florida scored the first four points of the second half to trim Upstate's lead down to one at 29-28. Edwards responded with the next seven points to put the Spartans ahead 36-29. McAllister teamed with Edwards for the next two baskets as Upstate increased its lead to 40-31 with 11:52 remaining. The Ospreys kept cutting into the Spartans lead over the next several minutes until Upstate pushed it back to a 10-point game with 5:53 left courtesy of a 7-1 run.
The Spartans maintained at least a five-point lead the rest of the way as Clency paced the offensive attack scoring seven of the team's final 11 points over a 5:28 span. North Florida managed to cut it back to a five-point game with 2:40 left, but Upstate would seal the victory at the charity stripe. Clency's final two free-throws with 32 seconds remaining gave the Spartans the 11-point win at 62-51.
Upstate finished the game shooting 33.8% (22-of-65) as a team while the Ospreys went 19-of-58 (32.8%).
The Spartans held the advantage in points in the paint (24-18), points off turnovers (18-12) and bench points (25-24).
Destinee Smith had a team-high 14 points for North Florida and Larkira Jones pulled down nine rebounds.
Upstate returns to action Saturday, Feb. 1 when it faces Jacksonville at 1 p.m.
Follow Upstate women's basketball on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.