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Jan. 14, 2008
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Playing without junior co-captain Courtney Bradley (Columbia, S.C./Dutch Fork) for the last 8:40, the USC Upstate women's basketball team succumbed to a 19-12 run in the closing minutes, as Gardner-Webb survived with a gritty 73-56 win in Atlantic Sun Conference action at the Hodge Center on Monday night.
"It's another game where we played hard and just came a little bit short," Upstate head coach Tammy George said. "The kids fought like crazy. We executed our game plan pretty well. We just couldn't score on the offensive end. They don't give up and I am very proud of them for that."
With the Spartans down 54-40, Bradley drove the lane looking for a layup and crashed into the lower part of the base of the wall behind the baseline and was taken out of the game with a knee injury. She led the Spartans brilliantly during the game, posting six assists, five rebounds and three steals in the game, moving into third place all-time in career assists, finishing the game with 324. Her injury is still being evaluated.
Upstate (4-11 overall, 0-3 A-Sun) got a career-high 18 points from junior Cherale Powell (Wilkesboro, N.C./Wilkesboro C.C.), as the 5-9 guard went 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe in the game, She added five rebounds. Sophomore Courtney Hawkins (Greer, S.C./Greer) posted 12 points, two assists and two steals and junior Ebony Johnson (Columbia, S.C./Ridgeview) added six points, 10 rebounds and three steals, her fourth double-figure rebounding effort of the season.
It was a gritty effort for the Spartans, who held a 42-37 edge in rebounding, but a full Gardner-Webb bench that supplied 33 points and ate 108 minutes was too much to handle.
The Spartans, who played the game with just eight players and finished with only five available, came out hot, taking a 6-3 lead after a Hawkins jumper 1:48 into the game. However, Gardner-Webb (8-9 overall, 4-0 A-Sun) went on an 8-0 run over the next 5:27 to take an 11-6 lead, a lead they never relinquished. The Spartans stayed close for the rest of the half. After a jumper from Meranda Burnett gave the Bulldogs a 23-15 lead with 4:30 left, the Spartans went on a 9-3 run to close within two after two free throws from junior Shanea Wyant (Lafayette, Ind./Lafayette Jefferson) with 36 seconds left in the half. A turnaround layup with two seconds left by LaTroya Pope gave the Bulldogs a four-point advantage at the half.
A layup from Powell after the break brought the Spartans back within two, but that was as close as they could get, as a 3-pointer from Laura Povilonyte at the 18:53 mark sparked a 26-14 run to help the Bulldogs take a 54-40 lead midway through the half.
Povilonyte led the Bulldogs with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals. Margaret Roundtree added 14 points and three rebounds and Dominique Hudson added 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Upstate hits the road for a three-game swing beginning on Wednesday with its final non-conference game of the season, as it heads to Winthrop for a 7 p.m. contest.
Upstate is 63-62 all-time against schools from North Carolina and 41-22 inside the Hodge Center..
With her six assists, junior Courtney Bradley tied Jametria Hannah (1988-92, 318 assists) for third in school history with 324 career helpers.
With her first rebound of the night, junior Ebony Johnson became the first player in the DI era to record 100 rebounds at Upstate.
With her first bucket of the game, sophomore Courtney Hawkins set a new season-high in points after scoring 186 as a freshman. She has 197 and leads the team with a 13.1 scoring average.