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Jan. 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With junior Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.) bogged down by double and triple teams on the inside, the USC Upstate women's basketball team turned to its outside game and sophomore Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va./Nitro) delivered with five 3-pointers, four in the second half, to finish with a game-high 21 points as Upstate outlasted Lipscomb, 63-51, for its first win in school history at Allen Arena on Saturday. The win improves Upstate to 9-6 overall and 3-3 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the first time in school history that the Spartans improved to .500 in A-Sun play, and Lipscomb fell to 3-12 overall and 1-4 in the A-Sun.
The win capped off a week of first for Upstate, as it won three straight A-Sun games for the first time in school history by beating ETSU and Belmont for the first times and Lipscomb for the first time on the road. The team also swept a road A-Sun weekend for the first time since joining the conference in 2007-08. The win was also USC Upstate's first at Allen Arena in any sport, as volleyball, women's basketball and men's basketball are all housed at the arena.
The Lady Bisons took an 11-2 lead by the 15:12 mark in the first half thanks to a 5-for-5 start from the field. However, Upstate used much of the rest of the half to take control, as the Spartans switched to a zone defense to neutralize a Lipscomb offense that had scored six points in the paint early. Meanwhile, a Wallace jumper ignited a 6-0 run capped by a jumper from freshman Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C./T.C. Roberson) with 11:21 left, bringing the Spartans within three points.
"We didn't really have the energy I thought we should have coming out," Upstate head coach Tammy George, who won her 97th career game, said. "We kind of struggled in man and they were pushing the ball on us so we went to our zone and they struggled in the first half from there. We'll take it."
The Bisons got a 3-pointer from Morgan Faulkner that banked in, but Upstate scored 11 more points in a row, as McMillan scored her only points of the half to start the run and a 3-pointer from Copney from the left side put the Spartans up by five to cap the run.
"Somebody different stepped up (Saturday) and made some shots," George said. "T came in, she had been struggling, but she made some big shots. That was big for her."
Jenna Bartsokas brought the Bisons within two points, but the Spartans scored six more points to cap the half, as freshman Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) hit her first career trifecta as the shot clock wound down, and with 15 seconds left, Wallace hit her first 3-pointer, sending Upstate to the locker room with a 27-19 lead.
In the second half, the Spartans maintained at least a five-point lead throughout, even as the two teams each went through strong offensive spurts and tough defensive ones. The two teams started out on fire, led by Wallace, who hit three 3-pointers in the first 2:50 of the half, helping the Spartans take a 38-26 lead.
"I started to get some confidence after I hit that first 3-pointer at the end of the first half," Wallace, who became the 34th player in school history to reach 500 career points during the game, said. "Coach George kind of got on me at halftime about taking the open shot and I got some looks pretty quick there in the second half. Once I hit the first one, the basket started to look a little bit bigger." From there, the Spartans kept Lipscomb at least three possessions away, until back-to-back buckets by Kaitie Fritts and Anna Bowers brought the Bisons within six with 11:06 left. Senior Koko Richardson (Mary Esther, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.) answered with back-to-back buckets in the paint to extend the lead back to 10 points with 9:34 left.
From there, both teams struggled through three scoreless minutes until Fritts hit a layup and Hannah Phillips drained a three, bringing the Bisons within five at 50-45. Wallace hit her fourth three and the teams each exchanged buckets before another Bisons' three from Bowers made it 55-50 with 4:07 left. That was as close as Lipscomb could get, though, as McMillan hit a pair of big buckets inside and Upstate iced the game with a 4-for-6 effort from the free throw line in the final 1:37 while holding Lipscomb scoreless for the final 2:55 to extend the lead to 12 by the final horn.
Wallace was the lone Spartan in double figures, as all nine players entered into the scoring column. Freshman Christine Nyobe (Bertoua, Cameroon/The Miller School) played a career-high 16 minutes, tying a career high with four points and setting one with seven rebounds in a breakthrough performance. Copney added nine points, five rebounds and two steals and McRoberts posted seven points, three rebounds and a steal. McMillan finished with six points, five rebounds and a season-high four steals. Richardson added six points and three steals and Hawkins also added six points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Both sophomore Lesley Daniel (Collinwood, Tenn./Collinwood) and junior Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C./UNC Greensboro) each added two points and two assists.
The Bisons were led by Phillips, who scored 15 points and added two rebounds and two steals, and Anna Bowers, who also posted 15 points, four rebounds and four steals. Jenna Bartsokas posted six assists, five points and two steals and Brttany Duerk added six rebounds.
The Spartans are back in action on Thursday, when the Spartans welcome second-place Mercer into the Hodge Center for a 7 p.m. contest.
The Spartans improved to .500 in A-Sun play for the first time in school history with the win ... The team went 0-12 to start 2007-08 and 0-2 in 2008-09 and never reached .500.
Sophomore Kendra Wallace has hit 3-pointer in 14 of 15 games this year and in each of her last seven games.
Wallace became the 34th player in school history to reach 500 career points with her eighth of 21 points in the game ... She has 513 career points.
Senior Courtney Hawkins used her two thefts to reach fourth in school history with 174 career takeaways.
Junior Chelsea McMillan's D-I era record 32 straight free throws was snapped with her first of the game. Uncharacteristically, McMillan finished 0-for-4 from the line.