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Nov. 13, 2009
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Senior Courtney Hawkins (Greer, S.C./Greer) became the 12th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points as she secured the fourth double-double of her career with 13 points and 10 rebounds, leading the USC Upstate women's basketball team to a 78-47 win over North Greenville in the season opener for the Spartans on Friday night at the G.B. Hodge Center.
In front of 723 fans, a D-I era record at the Hodge for a women's basketball game that wasn't part of a doubleheader with the men's team, Hawkins stopped-and-popped on a jumper with 3:30 left for her 13th point of the night, helping her cross the mark and give her 1,001 points in her career. The 5-4 guard is one of the most dynamic scorers in Upstate's history, leading the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring as a sophomore in 2007-08, averaging 16.4 points per game.
"It meant a lot to get it," Hawkins said, "but throughout the game, I was so focused that I totally forgot about it, but then my teammates started to tell me, `we want to get this for you.' They reminded me so we tried to accomplish it together."
"There's no doubt that Courtney deserves it," Upstate head coach Tammy George said. "She has been a very important part of our offense for three years and she will continue to be. We are very happy for her and we couldn't be more proud."
The Spartans (1-0 overall) built a 30-point lead by halftime against the Division II North Greenville, heading into the locker room with a 44-14 lead, as sophomore Kendra Wallace (Hurricane, W.Va./Nitro) posted 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers, and junior Chelsea McMillan (East Gadsden, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.) added nine points.
After a layup by Krisceda Cotton gave North Greenville (0-2 exhibition) a 2-0 lead, the Spartans responded with a layup from junior Sharniece Wadelington (Greenville, S.C./UNC Greensboro), a free throw from McMillan and another layup from Wadelington to take a 5-2 lead, which they never relinquished. With the score 9-4 with 15:36 left, Wallace hit a 3-pointer to ignite an 18-1 Spartan run that occupied the next seven minutes of play.
"We came out with a lot of intensity, a lot energy that we knew we had," Hawkins said. "If we can do that every game, it's going to be a good season."
The Spartan defense, which forced 19 Crusader turnovers in the first half, didn't let up, and McMillan hit a layup with 1:21 left to give Upstate a 44-11 lead. The Crusaders got a three from Cotton to make it a 30-point Upstate lead heading into the locker room.
"It was fun to get back on the court," Wallace said. "We were just trying not let up defensively and keep playing hard."
The Spartans used a balanced scoring attack that included nine players factoring into the scoring column in the second half, led by six points a piece from junior Kimberly Pitman (Plumtree, N.C./Avery) and Hawkins. Upstate was able to take the lead as high as 36 points after a fast-break layup by freshman Tee'Ara Copney (Asheville, N.C./T.C. Roberson) with 13:12 left and North Greenville was never able to get closer than 26 points in the half, closing within 68-42 with 5:19 left after a 3-pointer by Anjelica Wilcox.
"I liked our intensity and I liked how hard we worked in the game," George said. "To outrebound a team 65-37 says something. We got to learn a lot about ourselves (Friday) and it was a good start. That said, we still have a lot of work to do. We need to cut down on our turnovers, we need to play a complete 40 minutes and we still need to shake the rust off. But it was a good start."
Much of the drama was left to Hawkins, who entered the second half needing five points to reach the mark. Two free throws with 6:18 left helped her close within three points. After missing a pair of free throws, she grabbed an offensive rebound and charged in for a layup with 3:30 left in the half.
Ironically, when Hawkins was just one point away from the mark, she tossed a pass down-low to senior Koko Richardson (Mary Esther, Fla./Santa Fe C.C.), who laid the ball in, giving Hawkins one of her three dimes on the night.
"It's all about teamwork," Hawkins laughed afterwards. "It's good to get 1,000 points, but we're trying to win games, too."
With 2:27 left, George called timeout to set up a play for Hawkins, and the 5-4 guard delivered, taking the point position and dribbling into position for her milestone 16-footer from the right side.
"It was awesome," Wallace said of Hawkins' achievement. "She's a great player and she deserves it."
McMillan posted her seventh career double-double, notching 12 points and 12 rebounds in just 15 minutes. She also added three assists, three blocks and two steals. Wallace notched a game-high 16 points, hitting three 3-pointers, while falling one rebound shy of her career high, finishing with seven boards.
In their debuts as Spartans, Wadelington and freshman Lauren McRoberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) each posted nine points, with Wadelington adding five rebounds and three steals and McRoberts posting six boards. Pitman and Copney each posted six points and Pitman added eight rebounds in 13 minutes. Richardson also added six points and Daniel notched four assists and two steals.
North Greenville was led by Cotton, who noteched 10 points and eight rebounds and Karly Stache, who had a team-high 11 points. Whitney Smith posted seven points and Christina Carlis notched six points, three rebounds and two assists.
Upstate gets back on the court on Monday when it makes its first road trip of the year, heading to Longwood for a non-conference tilt at 7 p.m.
- The Spartans are 1-1 all-time on Nov. 13.
- Upstate is 20-15 (.571) all-time in season openers and 27-8 (.771) all-time in home openers.
- Head coach Tammy George moved into fourth place along on the all-time win chart at Upstate, winning her 46th game in her fifth year at the school to move past Carmen Nelon (1995-99).
- Senior Courtney Hawkins, at 5-4, is now the shortest player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. The shortest players previously to have scored 1,000 points at Upstate are 5-9 guards Valerie Scott (1988-92) and Stephanie Feyes (2001-05).
- This was the second straight year that senior Courtney Hawkins started the season with a double-double, as she posted 14 points and 10 rebounds in the season opener at Presbyterian on Nov. 15, 2008.
- Senior Courtney Hawkins is the only Spartan who was on the roster for Upstate the last time it faced North Greenville in 2006. She scored six points in that 78-49 win.
- Sophomore Kendra Wallace hit three 3-pointers to become the eighth player in school history to can 75 in a career.
- Sophomore Lesley Daniel posted four assists to move within one of 150 in her career.
- Freshmen Tee'Ara Copney (six points), Lauren McRoberts (nine points) and Christine Nyobe (one point) all scored the first points of their collegiate careers. Junior transfer Sharniece Wadelington (nine points) added her first points as a Spartan. Freshman Morgan Goss posted her first collegiate assists and steal.