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Jan. 9, 2010
Nashville, Tenn. - Despite placing four players in double figures for the first time in two years, USC Upstate could not overcome a standout performance from Lipscomb's Josh Slater as the Bisons took an 80-66 victory over the Spartans Saturday night in A-Sun men's basketball action in Allen Arena.
Upstate fell to 1-14 overall and 1-5 in the A-Sun with the loss. The Spartans return to the court Friday night in Spartanburg when Mercer comes to the Hodge Center in a game which will be televised on CSS as part of the A-Sun's television deal with the regional sports network. Lipscomb improved to 7-7 overall and 4-1 in the league with the win.
"You can't win basketball games when you get guard play like we did tonight," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne. "We got three really good performances from our frontline guys. I give our guys a lot of credit. They played hard and competed. I respect them for that. When we were getting the ball where we needed it, good things happened."
Slater finished the game with 25 points to go along with four rebounds, three steals and two assists to lead Lipscomb to the win. Upstate held Adnan Hodzic, the Bisons' marquee player and a conference player of the year candidate, to 11 points and seven rebounds, keeping the big man in foul trouble throughout the night.
"Slater is as important a player to Lipscomb's team as Hodzic," said Payne. "He is a good player who is a difficult matchup for our guards."
Upstate's front court, was strong throughout the night. Pat Posey finished with his first career double-double, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Two other players narrowly missed double-doubles. Nick Schnieders finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Mezie Uzochukwu added 10 points and nine boards, narrowly missing his third straight double-double. However, it was Lipscomb's guard play that made the difference.
Perimeter players Slater, Jordan Burgason and Johnny Lee accounted for 44 of Lipscomb's points and made it difficult on Upstate's guards throughout the night.
After trailing Lipscomb by 13 at halftime, Upstate rallied in the second half to cut the lead to six points. The Spartans shot 50 percent from the floor in the half to help their cause. Trailing by 14 points with 7:15 to play in the game, Upstate rallied to cut the Bisons lead to six with 5:08 remaining.
Schneiders made back-to-back baskets, Uzochukwu converted a pair of free throws and Carter Cook contributed a three-point play as Upstate used a 9-1 run to cut the lead to 61-55. But, just as quickly as Upstate got back in the game with the run, Lipscomb pushed the lead back to double figures.
Slater scored five straight points to push the Lipscomb lead to 11 and Brian Wright mad a layup as the Bisons opened a 68-55 lead with 3:33 to play.
Upstate was not done and cut the lead to seven with 2:33 to play, but Slater answered with a bucket. The Spartans would only get as close as eight points the rest of the way.
Lipscomb took control of the game from the opening tip and Michael Teller's three-pointer 55 seconds into the game gave the Bisons a 3-0 lead. Lipscomb would never trail in the game. The Bisons opened a 14-4 lead at the 14:43 mark.
Lipscomb increased its lead to 14 points with 8:49 to play in the half, but Upstate battled back to cut the lead to six points. Posey had back-to-back layups and Uzochukwu added two straight buckets as the Spartans cut the lead to 22-16 with 6:38 to play before halftime. However, Lipscomb countered to outscore the Spartans 11-4 the rest of the half and took a 33-20 lead into the locker room.
In addition to Slater, three other Lipscomb players finished in double figures. Johnny Lee finished with 12 points and five assists. Hodzic added his 11 points, while Wright tallied 10 points and two assists. The Bisons finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field and made 9-of-29 from the three-point arc. They dominated at the free throw line, making 17-of-27 from the charity stripe. Upstate took just 11 free throws and made just six.
In addition to Posey, Schneiders and Uzochukwu, Upstate's Carter Cook finished in double figures with 11 points. The Spartans shot 44 percent from the floor, but made just 2-of-11 from the arc.