Spartans Late Surge not enough as UNC Asheville Wins, 56-53

Spartans Late Surge not enough as UNC Asheville Wins, 56-53

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The USC Upstate women's basketball team roared to life in the second half of Saturday's basketball game but fell 56-53 to UNC Asheville at Kimmel Arena.

With the loss USC Upstate falls 6-19 overall on the season and 2-12 in conference play. The Spartans are currently riding a season high seven game losing streak. Meanwhile, UNC Asheville improves to 15-11 overall and 10-5 in Big South play.


  • UNC Asheville has now won five straight meetings over the Spartans and swept the season series for the first time since the 1984-1985 season.
  • Over the course of the seven game losing skid the Spartans have had at least one quarter in which they only scored single digits. Today, USC Upstate scored just four points in the opening frame.
  • DeNisha Swain led the Spartans with 13 points, while Brianna Lewis contributed 12 points in the loss. Riley Popplewell led the Spartans with 9 rebounds in the loss.
  • For the third consecutive game Swain registered at least five steals in the game and has provided a spark off the bench in the last two contests.
  • USC Upstate forced 20 Bulldog turnovers and scored 15 points off the miscues.
  • The Spartans shot 34 percent from the field, 44 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line.
  • The Bulldogs leading scorer was Nadiria Evans, who finished with 13 points in the game. Jessica Wall finished second on the team with 11 points in the contest.
  • UNC Asheville shot 36 percent from the field, 23 percent from beyond the arch and 60 percent at the free throw line.


  • Neither team scored in the first few moments of the game. Wall scored the first points for either side with 7:13 to go in the quarter.
  • Lewis answered Wall's basket with a made jump shot at the 6:49 mark of the quarter.
  • The Spartans offense went quite for nearly two minutes of action and allowed UNC Asheville to take a 7-2 lead.
  • After a USC Upstate timeout freshman forward Kathryn Kirkwood made a layup with 4:34 to go in the quarter to end the scoring drought for the Spartans.
  • UNC Asheville ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run and took a 15-4 lead into the second quarter.


  • For the second consecutive quarter Wall started the scoring for either side with a made jump shot.
  • Popplewell scored the Spartans first points of the quarter at the free throw line.
  • Trailing 19-6 with 8:09 to play in the half, the Spartans offense began to come alive. Natalia Panufnik made the first field goal for USC Upstate and on the very next possession Swain hit a three-pointer to cut the Bulldogs lead to single digits.
  • USC Upstate ended the second quarter on a 6-1 run and closed the gap going into the halftime break.
  • UNC Asheville held a slim 22-17 advantage at halftime.
  • USC Upstate shot 25 percent from the field in the opening half and 30 percent from three-point range.


  • Ali Trani made a three-point basket coming out of the halftime break to give the Bulldogs a nine point advantage over the Spartans.
  • With 7:52 to go in the quarter and the Spartans trailing 27-17, Lewis nailed a jump shot to bring the Spartans back within single figures of the Bulldogs.
  • Both teams matched each other shot-for-shot down the third quarter stretch and a Swain three-pointer as time expired kept the Spartans within 10 points of UNC Asheville.


  • UNC Asheville added a quick four points in the first 50 seconds of the quarter after a Spartans turnover.
  • Bailey Wensler made jump shot to put the Spartans on the board in the final quarter of play at the 8:55 mark.
  • With 5:30 to play in the contest the USC Upstate offense began to make their move. Sophomore forward Michaela Gibbons drilled a three-pointer off a Lewis pass to bring the Spartans within six points.
  • After a media timeout, Popplewell got in on the three-point barrage and pulled the Spartans to within a triple of tying the game at 45.
  • UNC Asheville responded with a quick 5-2 spurt to keep the pressure on the USC Upstate offense.
  • The Spartans responded with a Popplewell layup and on the next possession, Gibbons hit another three-pointer to make the score 50-49.
  • The Bulldogs made there free throw attempts down the stretch as they held on to win 56-53.
  • USC Upstate shot 42 percent from the field and 62 percent from beyond the three point arch.


  • The Spartans will return home on Tuesday evening to take on in-state rival Winthrop. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside the G. B. Hodge Center.

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