Women’s Basketball Preview: Charleston Southern (Big South Tournament)

Women’s Basketball Preview: Charleston Southern (Big South Tournament)

SPARTANBURG, S.C.  – The USC Upstate women's basketball team will travel down to Charleston, S.C. tomorrow night to play a first round Big South Tournament matchup against Charleston Southern inside the Buc Dome.

Charleston Southern (12-17, 9-9 BSC) swept the regular season series against the Spartans, winning 78-75 in Spartanburg and winning 74-62 in Charleston. In the first meeting Michaela Gibbons dropped a career high 21 points and finished one three-pointer short of tying the school single game record of 8.  However, in the last meeting between the two teams USC Upstate (7-22, 3-15 BSC) had a valiant comeback attempt come up short in the final moments of the game. This will be the 13th overall meeting between the two schools, with USC Upstate holding an 8-4 advantage in the overall series. Prior to this season the Buccaneers had not beaten USC Upstate in nearly a decade.

USC Upstate is currently looking to snap a three game losing skid and the Spartans appear to be fired up heading into the Big South Tournament. On Saturday afternoon the Spartans scrappy defense almost stunned the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb. Although USC Upstate lost 75-67, the Spartans still had a trio of players reach double figures in the scoring column. Brianna Lewis and Big South Scholar Athlete of the Year Riley Popplewell both had 15 points in the loss, while DeNisha Swain added 12 points in the loss.

The Spartans ended the regular season with a Big South Conference best 181 three-point field goals made and averaged 6.7 three-pointers per contest. Lewis finished second in the league in points per game (16.5), ranks third in assists per game (4.8), fourth in minutes played (35.5) and fifth in steals (2.3).

Popplewell emerged as a force inside the paint for the Spartans this season. Popplewell currently leads the Big South in offensive rebounds (112) and currently ranks fifth in rebounding average (8.1). The Hoosier State native is ranked 13th in the BSC In scoring with 11.1 points per contest. Swain ranks second in the Big South in total steals (84) and steals per game (3.1).  

Charleston Southern is coming off a 79-67 victory over Longwood in the regular season finale. With the victory the Buccaneers clinched the seven seed. Charleston Southern is looking to win their third consecutive game in the first round of a conference tournament. As a seven seed in the Big South Tournament the Buccaneers are 2-6 but they are 4-0 All-Time against nine seeds or lower. Charleston Southern in 4-4 in first round games.

In two games against USC Upstate this season Shelby Willbanks, Breannah Bretches and Ke'Asia Jackson are all averaging double figures in the scoring column. Jackson currently leads the team in scoring with 12.2 points per contest and Bretches is second on the team with 11.5 points per game.

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