Dec. 13, 2009
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Looking to continue its best start since 2002-03 and post its sixth win in its first eight games for the first time since the 1997-98 squad went 7-1, the USC Upstate women's basketball team will head back to the hardwood for the first time after a two-week layoff for exams on Tuesday night when the Spartans head to Clemson looking to upset an ACC opponent for the first time in school history.
The Spartans (5-2 overall) are coming off one of the most balanced offensive scoring efforts in school history as the team beat S.C. State, 84-60, on Dec. 1 as six players finished in double figures in the win. Sophomore Chelsea McMillan will continue to be a key to the team's success, as the 6-0 forward has paced the A-Sun's top-scoring offense this year, averaging 14.3 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the league.
Clemson (6-4 overall) is led by Spartanburg's own Lele Hardy, who is averaging 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while leading the Tigers. The Tigers have played one other A-Sun school, beating Kennesaw State, 75-69.
The Spartans are 1-0 all-time on Dec. 15, beating Queens (N.C.), 69-60, in 1994.
Upstate is 0-4 all-time against ACC opponents.
Upstate is 8-2 in the D-I era against South Carolina non-conference opponents and 4-2 on the road.
Head coach Tammy George won her 50th game at USC Upstate with the win over Winston-Salem State. She is the fourth coach in school history to reach 50 career wins, tying Tammy Holder's mark of 50 set from 1988-91.
Senior Courtney Hawkins is just one trey away from becoming the fifth player in school history to reach 100 in a career.
With her two steals against Winston-Salem State, senior Courtney Hawkins passed Heather Abrams' seventh-best mark in school history of 161 steals set from 1993-97. Hawkins now has 162 in her career.
Sophomore Kendra Wallace has hit a 3-pointer in a career-high 14 straight games, including in all seven games of this season ... the stretch is now the fifth-longest in school history.
Senior Koko Richardson tied a season high with 13 points against Winston-Salem State and set one with two steals in the game.
Clemson enters Tuesday's game with a 6-4 overall record after suffering a 69-56 setback at Chattanooga, a 2009 WNIT participant, on Saturday.
The Tigers are led by Spartanburg's own Lele Hardy, who is averaging 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while leading the Tigers. She also adds 3.6 steals and 2.7 assists per game. Shaniqua Pauldo adds 14.3 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Hardy posted 12 rebounds against Chattanooga and Pauldo posted 16 points. Kristyn Wright posted 10 points and four rebounds, but the Mocs used a plus-11 rebounding advantage to outlast the Tigers.
The Tigers have played one other A-Sun school, beating Kennesaw State, 75-69. The Tigers also have wins over Furman, South Carolina, Hofstra, Northwestern and Charleston Southern on the season and they have fallen to the College of Charleston, Richmond and No. 1 Connecticut.
The Balanced Attack
For the first time in the Division I era, six USC Upstate women's basketball players posted double-figure efforts in Upstate's 84-60 non-conference win over Winston-Salem State on Tuesday. Junior Chelsea McMillan scored 15 points, senior Koko Richardson posted 13, senior Courtney Hawkins, sophomore Kendra Wallace and junior Sharniece Wadelington posted 11 and freshman Tee'Ara Copney added 10. The Spartans have seen five players score in double figures just one time, against Mercer on Feb. 26, 2009.
The Spartans had four players in double figures at S.C. State on Nov. 24, as Copney scored 21, McMillan added 16, Wadelington posted 15 and Richardson added 12. The team also had four in double figures in a 71-59 win at Longwood, as Copney scored 16, McMillan and Hawkins each added 15 and Richardson added 13. In the Division I era, the Spartans have placed four in double figures 13 times, doing so twice in 2007-08 and eight times in 2008-09.
Winning The Hard Way
For the first time in the Division I era, the USC Upstate women's basketball team posted a win when allowing an opponent to shoot more than 50 percent from the field as Upstate defeated Winston-Salem State, 84-60 on Dec. 1. The Lady Rams shot 51 percent (26-for-51) , but Upstate hindered the Rams by forcing 21 turnovers and outrebounding the Rams, 40-26. The Spartans also hit 22 free throws while the Rams hit just seven.
Big Time Opponent, No Problem
Big-conference opponents bring the best out in junior Chelsea McMillan. In three career games against schools from either the Southeastern Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference, the 6-0 forward has averaged 12.0 points and nine rebounds. Against South Carolina on Dec. 16, 2008, McMillan posted 16 points and eight rebounds and against Virginia Tech on Feb. 2, 2009, she added six points and eight rebounds. She improved those totals against No. 12/17 Virginia on Nov. 18, 2009, as she picked up her eighth career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
A Look At The Ratings
A look at the current computer rankings shows USC Upstate as one of the top teams in the A-Sun heading into the conference season which begins Thursday for Upstate at Stetson. The Spartans are currently second in the A-Sun on CollegeRPI.com with an RPI of 115, just five spots below Florida Gulf Coast, who is first at 110. In Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Upstate is third in the A-Sun with a ranking of 143, behind just FGCU (86) and ETSU (113).
The Downtown Train
The 2009-10 Spartans already have a pair of players in the all-time top 10 in career 3-pointers and each will look to become just the fifth and sixth players to reach 100 career 3-pointers in an Upstate uniform during the season. Senior Courtney Hawkins is currently fifth in school history with 99 threes, needing just one more to reach the mark. Sophomore Kendra Wallace, after hitting 72 as a freshman, is already seventh in school history, passing Shannon Pallardy's mark of 80 with her first of four treys against UNC Asheville. She needs 13 to reach 100 career trifectas.
In a town internationally known for the A-Plenty from the Beacon Drive-In, the Spartans have been just as unwelcome to its opponents thanks to a pair of new thieves on the squad. Freshman Tee'Ara Copney and junior Sharniece Wadelington have terrorized their opponents this season, combining for 36 steals in seven games, an average of 5.1 per game. Both players have also posted at least one steal in each game this season.
Both players are currently tied for third in the A-Sun in steals, each averaging 2.57 thefts per game. Copney, the freshman guard pick-pocketed Longwood five times and she has multiple steals in five contests. The steals aren't the only remarkable part of Copney's game, as those steals have led to a lot of easy lay-ups, with Copney responsible for 18 of Upstate's 48 fastbreak points this year. Wadelington has pick-pocketed five teams three times, and she leads team with multiple steals in six games.
Sophomore Kendra Wallace extended her streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer made to 14 games at Winston-Salem State. She passed her previous career high of 12 on Nov. 28 against UNC Asheville. She hit one in 12 straight games from Jan. 3-Feb. 2 of her freshman year. Wallace started the new streak just five days later on Feb. 7, when she dropped in four treys against Stetson. During the streak, Wallace has averaged 10.8 points, scoring 151 points, and hit 33 percent (33-for-100) of her 3-point attempts. The 5-9 West Virginian still has a way to go, though, before reaching the school record, set by Stephanie Feyes, who drilled a three in 24 straight games from Nov. 22, 2003-March 2, 2004.
Sophomore Lesley Daniel has continued to develop as a point guard for the Spartans, as she enters Tuesday's game fourth in the A-Sun, averaging 4.14 assists per game. Amazingly, Daniel is just 10 months removed from a knee injury that took her from the court for the last four games of her freshman year. The 5-5 southpaw has posted five four-assist games, including tying a career high with six assists at S.C. State on Nov. 28. Daniel is a gritty, hard-nosed ballhandler as a freshman that also has an ability to score in bunches, as she notched five 10-point games during 2008-09, although her season-high is nine this year.
Junior Chelsea McMillan has been on a roll since Jan. 15 of last year, when she posted her first career double-double with 31 points and 14 rebounds against Lipscomb. Since that game, the 6-0 forward has scored 302 points (13.7 per game), grabbed 214 rebounds (9.7) and blocked 31 shots. She has also been consistent from the field, hitting 43.3 (116-268) percent of her shots and outstanding at the free throw line, hitting 86.1 (68-79) percent of her shots in her last 22 games. This season, McMillan has been simply outstanding, averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, also posting three double-doubles in her first five games.
Into The Fire
Head coach Tammy George has not been shy about playing freshmen during Upstate's first three years of Division I play. In fact, Upstate's three freshmen in 2008-09 averaged 23.6 minutes of court time per player during the season. Kendra Wallace led the way, playing 1,004 minutes, an average of 34.6 minutes per night. In 2007-08, the Spartans' five freshmen averaged 10.8 minutes per night, but three of them averaged more than 15.0 minutes per game. In the first seven games of the 2009-10 season, the four Spartan freshmen have averaged 14.5 minutes, 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds each per game.
The Magic Number
With the 78-60 win over UNC Asheville, USC Upstate once again proved its magic number remains 70. When the team scores more than 70 points for head coach Tammy George, the Spartans win more than 70 percent of the time in the D-I era. Upstate is 14-5 (.737) in games in which it reaches 70 points, including all four of its wins during the 2009-10 campaign. Upstate was 7-3 when scoring more than 70 points in 2008-09. The team has lost just once in the D-I era when scoring 80 or more points.
Head coach Tammy George, in her fifth year at USC Upstate, is moving up the school's career wins list. The sixth coach of 14 at Upstate to post three 10-win seasons, George is currently tied with Tammy Holder for third in school history with 50 career wins. She moved ahead of Carmon Nelon (1995-99) and into fourth on Upstate's career coaching victories chart with the win over North Greenville on Nov. 13. George, a 1993 graduate of UNC Charlotte, coached Brevard for two seasons, compiling a 43-21 record before moving to Upstate in 2005-06, when she led the team to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since 1995.