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Dec. 30, 2007
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - USC Upstate and Duquesne engaged in a physical battle Sunday evening in the Palumbo Center at Duquesne, and the Dukes used a decisive second half run to take an 84-66 victory over the Spartans.
Upstate falls to 2-11 on the season and travels to Ames, Iowa, Wednesday for an 8:00 p.m. (EST) showdown with Iowa State. Duquesne improves to 9-3 on the year.
"I thought our kids played hard and played well," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne. Our competitive energy has gotten better since our Texas trip. We had some unnecessary turnovers because of our inexperience. But, I can't fault our players for their effort."
Upstate looked good early. The Spartans scored 17 points in the first 6:30 of the game to open a 17-11 lead. However, Duquesne's physical, high-pressure defense turned the tide. The Dukes play a 10-man rotation, keeping fresh legs on the court. Duquesne held the Spartans to just five points over the next nine minutes and outscored Upstate 21-5 to open a 32-22 lead with 4:31 to play in the half.
"Depth was a factor in the game," said Payne. "Duquesne runs a lot of people at you."
Upstate trailed by 13 with time running out when Rashawn Brailsford gave the Spartans momentum heading into the intermission. The freshman from Columbia hit a running three-pointer from 40 feet at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 10, 41-31, going to the locker room.
Duquesne used a 6-0 spurt to open the second half to take a 47-31 lead. However, Upstate fought back with a run of their own to get back into the game. The Spartans rattled off nine straight points to cut the Dukes' lead to seven, 47-40, with 16:55 to play.
Duquesne, though, answered with another 6-0 spurt to push the lead back to double digits at 13 points, 53-40, with 15:00 to play in the game.
Upstate would not go down easily. The Spartans battled to cut the deficit back to single digits at 63-55 with 7:51 to play, but Bill Clark's three-pointer put the lad back to double digits at 66-55 with 7:37 to play to effectively put the game away. The Spartans would not get the deficit to single digits the rest of the way.
The game was physical throughout with several Spartans taking their lumps during the game. Nick Schneiders took a shot to the face which resulted in a broken nose for the red shirt sophomore. Luke Payne and Josh Chavis each sustained a concussion, while Bobby Davis also left the game early with a leg injury but returned to the court. Chavis, who took a shot to the head in the first half, did not return to action.
"Our team took a beating today, but they still competed," said Payne.
Mezie Uzochukwu led Upstate with his first career double-double. He finished with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Schneiders also turned in a career-high 13 points, two of which came after breaking his nose. Davis added 11 points and nine rebounds, while Gabor Boros turned in 11 points. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including nailing all three of his three-point attempts.
Shawn James, who was forced to the bench early in the second half with foul trouble, led Duquesne with 20 points and nine rebounds. Clark added a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Kojo Mensah added 14 for the Dukes.