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Nov. 10, 2007
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite a double-double from junior Ebony Johnson (Columbia, S.C./Ridgeview) and four double-digit point performances from Johnson, junior Courtney Bradley (Columbia, S.C./Dutch Fork) and freshmen Oceana Jackson (Carnesville, Ga./Franklin County) and Tiffany Whiting (Troutman, N.C./South Iredell), the USC Upstate women's basketball team couldn't overcome a 26-point second-half deficit, falling to Kentucky, 74-59, at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night in front of 4,901 fans.
In front of the largest crowd the Upstate women's basketball program has ever played in front off, the Spartans (0-1 overall) entered the Division I era by making a furious run in the final 4:11 to cut the lead down to 13 on a jumper from Whiting with 18 seconds left. The run was paced by eight points from Whiting.
"I'm very pleased with what we did (Saturday)," Upstate head coach Tammy George said. "There's a lot of positives we can take from this game. The kids played hard. They didn't quit. They just kept fighting until the end."
Johnson, in her first action since being held scoreless at Lander on Feb. 7, 2007, posted 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans. Bradley led the Spartans with 13 points and four assists, as she hit three 3-pointers to move within seven of becoming the fourth player to reach 100 in Upstate history. Jackson notched 12 points and six rebounds in her first start and Whiting posted 11 points, including two 3-pointers.
"In my years past, we've been very one-dimensional," George said. "This year's team is balanced with its scoring. They're not selfish. They don't care who scores. I'm very excited to see that."
Kentucky (1-0 overall) started out by gaining a 6-0 advantage before the first media timeout at 15:57, led by a 3-pointer from Samantha Mahoney.
Johnson cut the lead to 7-2 with the Spartans' first bucket in the Division I era with a reverse hook shot with 15:22 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats took advantage of some open looks from three as both Chante' Bowman and Jenn'e Jackson each drained trifectas, extending the lead to 19-7.
However, the Spartans posted a remarkable 9-0 run to cut the lead to three, as Johnson hit a fadeaway, Bradley drained a three, and the offense opened up the backdoor for two baskets from sophomore Shanea Wyant (Jefferson, Ind./Lafayette Jefferson).
The Wildcats and Spartans stayed close until four consecutive 3-pointers from Carly Morrow, Samantha Mahoney, Morrow and Carly Omerod opened up a 35-24 lead with less than three minutes left in the half. The Wildcats closed the half with a 43-26 lead.
Johnson led the Spartans in the first half, posting eight points and eight rebounds, as the Spartans outrebounded the SEC counterparts, 25-23, in the half. Junior Cherale Powell (Wilkesboro, N.C./Wilkes C.C.) added five rebounds in the half. Bradley posted seven points and three rebounds in the first half, shooting 3-for-5 from the field.
The Wildcats got eight points each from Ormerod and Mahoney and three assists each from Chowning and Amber Smith.
The Spartans jumped out with the first five points in the second half, as freshman Oceana Jackson posted two buckets inside and sophomore Samerria Crowder added a free throw, cutting the lead to 12 at 43-31. From there, the Wildcats controlled the middle part of the period, extending the lead to a game-high 26 points at 71-45 after three free throws were made by Chelsea Chowning after a foul outside the arc.
Kentucky was led by 10 points from 6-6 senior Sarah Elliott and 11 from Carly Morrow. The teams competed evenly on the glass, with each squad pulling down 47 rebounds.
Upstate will stay on the road, traveling to the ACC's Wake Forest for a 7 p.m. game on Tuesday at Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum.