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Jan. 8, 2008
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A 12-5 run late in the first half helped UNC Asheville take a 10-point lead into halftime and a career-high 23-point, eight rebound game from Jessica Monroe lifted the team to a 62-52 win over the USC Upstate women's basketball team in non-conference action at the Justice Center on Tuesday night.
In an unusually long, 2-hour, 15-minute battle, the Spartans showed a renewed grizzle against the defending Big South Conference champions. Their aggressiveness led to 21 Asheville turnovers and 15 points off turnover. Asheville could get the ball from the Spartans just 12 times in the game. However, Upstate shot just 26 percent (19-for-73) from the floor while UNC Asheville hit 33 percent (19-for-58) of its shots.
"I was very happy with our defensive intensity throughout the game," Upstate head coach Tammy George said. "We did a lot on the boards and the effort was great. The problem was offensively tonight."
The Spartans were led by freshman Kasey Thompson (Marion, Ind./Marion), who hit three 3-pointers for the second straight game, as she notched 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal for the Spartans. Junior Courtney Bradley (Columbia, S.C./Dutch Fork) added eight points, four assists, two steals and two trifectas. Freshman Kimberly Pitman (Avery, N.C./Avery) added four more buckets for a career-high eight points. She also had two rebounds in her first career start.
Junior Ebony Johnson (Columbia, S.C./Ridgeview) posted 16 rebounds, four shy of her career-high, to lead the Spartans on the glass, while junior Cherale Powell (Wilkesboro, N.C./Wilkesboro C.C.) added a career-high nine boards.
The Bulldogs built an 8-0 lead in the first 4:05, led by six points from Jessica Monroe, but Upstate chipped back into the game with a free throw by Johnson and a 3-pointer from Thompson to make it 8-4. After three Bulldog points, the Spartans lit up on a 7-0 run that featured another 3-pointer from Thompson, a bucket from Wyant and two free throws from Bradley.
The Spartans stayed within three points for much of the rest of the half, with a bucket in the paint from Johnson with 5:30 left making it 21-18, but 16 first-half fouls helped the Bulldogs on a 12-5 run to close the half with a 33-23 lead.
Monroe posted 15 points at the halfway mark to pace the Bulldogs while Thompson and her three trifectas led the Spartans with nine points.
The Spartans and Bulldogs battled evenly for much of the second half, with the Spartans only able to close within nine until a 3-pointer from Bradley with 2:55 left made it 56-48. Powell cut the lead to seven with 1:26 left at 59-52, but the Bulldogs closed the game with three free throws.
The first half foul trouble came back to haunt the Spartans in the game, as three players were disqualified. All five players that finished the game on the floor were guards, none standing taller than 5-9. The Spartans finished the game with 28 fouls while Asheville was called for 17 and the Spartans took 18 foul shots to the Bulldogs' 36.
Ashton Barton finished with 11 points and four rebounds for the Bulldogs and Ana Baker added 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Stacy Shepard posted 16 rebounds.
Upstate returns home for its first Atlantic Sun Conference home game on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with Campbell. The game is apart of a doubleheader with the men's programs, who face off at 4 p.m.
The Spartans are 2-6 all-time on Jan. 8.
Upstate is 63-60 all-time against schools from North Carolina and is 19-31 all-time in the Tar Heel State.
Upstate head coach Tammy George served on the staff of UNC Asheville head coach Betsy Blose during Blose's first year at Asheville, 2002-03. After the season, George accepted the head coaching job at Brevard College.
Junior Courtney Bradley is four assists shy of passing Jametria Hannah (1988-92) for third in school history with 318 career helpers.
With one blocked shot at UNC Asheville, junior Ebony Johnson needs one blocked shot to become the 11th player in school history to reach 25 in a career.
Freshman Kimberly Pitman hit the first field goal of her career with 8:01 remaining in the first half.
Freshman Tiffany Whiting moved into ninth place in the school's freshman record book with her 17th 3-pointer of the season, connecting from the left side with 2:28 left in the first.
Sophomore Courtney Hawkins was the lone Spartan to not be charged with a foul in the first half.