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Feb. 27, 2010
DeLand, Fla. - USC Upstate couldn't get over the hump in its season finale Saturday night against Stetson in the Edmunds Center, dropping a 65-60 decision to the Hatters to end the season and the collegiate career of renowned 7-3 center Nick Schneiders.
Upstate had 10 possessions in the second half when it had the ball either down one or tied and with the chance to take the lead, but went 0-for-10 with the opportunities. The only time the Spartans came away with something positive was when Nick Schneiders converted 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 49-49 with 8:53 to play.
"We just did not get over the hump," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne, who has put a cap his 25th year as a head coach. He finishes the season with 375 career victories. "We had several possessions where we had the ball either tied or down one and had a chance to take the lead and didn't. We didn't do a very good job managing the game at the end."
Stetson never trailed in the game and held off Upstate in the end, though the Hatters gave the Spartans opportunities.
Upstate trailed by nine points with a little over 14 minutes to play when it made its stand to get back in the game. The Spartans held Stetson scoreless for the next 7:31 and battled back to tie the game at 49-49 on Schneiders' free throw. However, Upstate had two possessions after defensive stops to break the tie but could not. Olivier Dupiton's layup with 6:35 to play gave Stetson a 51-49 lead and started a 10-0 run that delivered the Hatters a 59-49 lead with 3:31 to play.
While it looked like Stetson was headed for the win, Upstate would not give up. The Spartans cut it to five with 53 seconds to play. Trailing by nine, Josh Chavis nailed a three-pointer to cut the deficit to six with 32 seconds remaining. After a Stetson turnover, Mezie Uzochukwu was fouled on a shot attempt and made 1-of-2 free throws to cut the deficit to five with 10 seconds to play.
Chalmers Rogers stole the long inbounds pass to give Upstate a chance, but Chavis missed a three-pointer and Stetson came away with the rebound to take the win.
Stetson led from the get go, getting a free throw just 20 seconds into the game and a three-pointer from Brandon Williams 43 seconds in. The Hatters opened a 10-1 lead before Upstate used a 13-6 spurt to cut the lead to two, 16-14, with 10:11 to play before halftime.
Stetson increased the lead to seven points, but Upstate again fought back. The Spartans used a 6-0 spurt to cut the deficit to one, 23-22, with 5:28 to play in the half. But, just like before, Stetson countered and increased the lead to seven at halftime.
Stetson made 8-of-18 three-point attempts in the first half to vault out to the lead. The Hatters forced Upstate into eight turnovers and scored 16 points off the miscues.
Neither team shot well for the game. Upstate shot just 31 percent from the floor, though the Spartans were a solid 8-of-16 from the three-point arc. They also converted 22-of-32 attempts from the free throw line. Stetson shot 40 percent from the floor and three-point arc, and made just 9-of-17 from the charity stripe.
Schneiders led Upstate on the night, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Uzochukwu had a strong all-around game with six points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Ryan LeGates added 18 points for the Spartans.
A.J. Smith led Stetson with 19 points and five assists. Brandon Williams added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Joel Naburgs and Mark Lohuis finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Schneiders ends his career as Upstate's all-time blocked shots leader. He owns 205 career blocks, 69 ahead of No. 2 on the list. He owns all three blocks records at Upstate. In addition to the career mark, his 88 blocks this season broke his own single-season school record of 79 from a year ago, while he has blocked seven shots in three games as the single-game record holder. He tallied 837 points and 577 rebounds in his career, tallying 645 points, 381 rebounds and 167 blocks in just the last two seasons. He ranks 12th all-time in rebounding and 23rd in scoring. He came to Upstate as a raw talent having played just six months of loosely organized club basketball in his native Rietberg, Germany. After redshirting his first year, he played sparingly as a freshman. He saw increased minutes as a sophomore, then burst onto the scene as a junior.
"When I came here I had no idea what to expect," said Schneiders. "I didn't even know if I would stay the whole five years. Looking back, it's been such a pleasure being here. I have met so many great people and traveled to so many great places, and it has been a great time for me. The five years have gone by quickly. I am very proud of my blocks record. I love playing defense and it is just great to have something that will be in the record books for awhile."
In addition to his accomplishments on the court, he has been a standout off of it. He carries a 3.7 GPA and earned Academic All-America honors earlier this week. An accomplished artist, he had two pieces on display at the 2009 NCAA Convention in Washington D.C., one of only 20 student-athletes in all of NCAA Division I, II and III to do so.
"I had so much to learn when I came here," said Schneiders. "I think Upstate has been the perfect place for me. I started out as a redshirt and we were Division II my first year to get things started. We went Division I the next year and I slowly built it up to become a starter and then the go-to guy my senior year."