Too Little Too Late as Spartans fall 67-52 in the First Round of the Big South Tournament

Too Little Too Late as Spartans fall 67-52 in the First Round of the Big South Tournament

CHARLESTON, S.C.  – For the third consecutive season the USC Upstate women's basketball team ends the year with a loss in the first round of a conference tournament, tonight the Spartans lost 67-52 inside the Buc Dome against Charleston Southern.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:

  • This is the third consecutive season in which the Spartans have lost in the first round of either the Atlantic Sun or Big South Conference Tournament.
  • USC Upstate scored 41 of their 52 points in the first and fourth quarters of the game on Tuesday night.
  • Michaela Gibbons led the Spartans with a game high 15 points and a team high 6 rebounds in the loss. Natalia Panufnik was second on the team in scoring with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
  • Charleston Southern had four players end the game with double digit scoring efforts. Shelby Wilbanks had a team high 15 points, Ke'Asia Jackson contributed 14 points and Breannah Bretches and Tierra Steede scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
  • The USC Upstate bench outscored the Buccaneers 31-12 in the contest.
  • The Spartans shot 40 percent from the field, 30 percent from three point range and 50 percent from the free throw line.
  • Charleston Southern shot 43 percent from the field, 27 percent from the three point arch and 75 percent from the free throw line.
  • The game included three ties and eight lead changes.

1ST QUARTER BREAKDOWN:

  • Charleston Southern won the opening tip and Tierra Steede scored the opening basket of the game.
  • Natalia Panufnik drained a three-pointer from the top of the arch to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead with 8:40 remaining.
  • The Buccaneers responded with a 6-0 run and forced USC Upstate to call an early timeout, trailing 8-3.
  • Riley Parkhurst ended the run with a layup at the 7:20 mark of the quarter. Brianna Lewis then took a hard foul on a layup attempt and sank a pair of free throws to cut the score to 8-7.
  • Katherine Kirkwood tied the game at 10 with a layup off the left block. After a travel violation by Charleston Southern Michaela Gibbons drained a three-pointer to give the Spartans a 13-10 advantage.
  • The two teams traded leads throughout the remainder of the quarter, but it was USC Upstate who held a 20-18 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

2ND QUARTER BREAKDOWN:

  • Bailey Wensler trained a basket as the shot clock expired to give the Spartans a 22-18 lead early in second quarter.
  • Charleston Southern turned the ball over on their first two possessions of the quarter, but the Spartans were unable to capitalize.
  • With 7:30 remaining in the quarter Riley Popplewell made a contested layup to give USC Upstate a 24-18 lead. Charleston Southern was called for a charge and turned the ball over for their third consecutive possession.
  • Breannah Bretches scored the first points for the Buccaneers at the 5:42 to mark of the quarter.
  • Coming out of the media timeout, Charleston Southern immediately scored and cut the Spartans lead to 25-23. Moments later the Buccaneers tied the game on a pair of free throws.
  • Kirkwood found herself with a mismatch in the paint and easily scored the go ahead layup for the Spartans with 3:17 remaining in the quarter.
  • Rachel Burns stole the ball and Ke'Asia Jackson scored the fast break layup. The turnover sparked a 9-0 run by the Buccaneers.
  • Charleston Southern went into the halftime break trailing 34-27.
  • USC Upstate shot 30 percent from the field in the quarter, while Charleston shot 50 percent in the quarter.

3RD QUARTER BREAKDOWN:

  • Jackson scored the first points for either side with a mid-range jumper to begin the second half.
  • USC Upstate began the second half with three consecutive turnovers.
  • The Spartans called a timeout with 7:01 to go in the quarter trailing 37-28.
  • Popplewell made a contested layup at the 6:27 mark to give the Spartans their first field goal of the quarter.
  • USC Upstate was outscored 18-4 in the third frame and shot 14 percent from the field.
  • Charleston Southern took a commanding 52-31 lead into the final quarter of action.

4TH QUARTER BREAKDOWN:

  • Burns scored the first points of the fourth quarter for Charleston Southern as they built on their lead.
  • With 8:36 to go in the game Popplewell made driving layup to give the Spartans their first basket of the period.
  • The USC Upstate offense began to pick up a bit of momentum as Gibbons and Panufink score back-to-back baskets to give USC Upstate a quick 5-2 run.
  • Gibbons made a break-away layup with 4:53 remaining to cut the lead to 63-43. Moments later both Gibbons and Panufnik nailed three-pointers as the USC Upstate offense began to heat up again.  
  • The quick burst gave the Spartans an 8-0 run and forced a timeout to be called.
  • Out of the timeout break Charleston Southern used a quick 4-0 run to extend their lead to 67-49.
  • Kirkwood scored the final points for the Spartans with 22 seconds to go in the game.
  • USC Upstate outscored the Buccaneers 21-15 in the final quarter of play and shot 57 percent from the field.
  • Charleston Southern shot 38 percent in the final quarter of action.

This ends the season for the USC Upstate women's basketball team. The Spartans will begin to transition into offseason workouts in preparation for the 2019-2020 season.

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