SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Lipscomb was unable to hold on to a 14-point first half lead against the strong second half shooting of USC Upstate falling 81-74 Thursday evening.
The Bisons appeared to be well on their way to winning their fourth consecutive road game as they built a 14-point lead when sophomore forward Brian Wright drained a three with 1:30 left in the first half.
But the momentum was sucked out of the Bisons when Upstate’s Carter Cook made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Lipscomb’s lead to nine, 40-31, heading into the locker rooms.
Upstate opened the second half with a fastbreak layup by Pat Posey and a jumper by Nick Schneiders to cut it to a 40-35 contest.
The 9-0 run gave the Spartans all the confidence it would need to secure their fifth victory of the season. The Spartans found their range hitting five three pointers in just over five minutes.
Upstate outscored Lipscomb 36-15 over 11:12 capped by a three by Cedric Koffi, his third of the second half, at the 10:18 mark.
Upstate had near flawless stats in almost every category except rebounding. The Spartans committed seven turnovers while dishing out 16 assists. They blocked seven Bison shots, led by Schneiders with five.
Upstate shot 48.2 percent from the floor and 47.6 percent from beyond the arc, including connecting on 7-of-11 in the second half. They were 17-of-19 from the free throw line with all their makes coming after halftime.
Lipscomb led on the boards 40-32 and brought down 18 offensive rebounds. Adnan Hodzic grabbed a game-high nine.
Hodzic paced the Bisons with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Jordan Burgason followed with 18 points and Josh Slater added 13.
Upstate never led by more than eight points.
Down 68-60 Brandon Brown hit a three and Jacob Arnett made a layup off a steal by Hodzic to bring the Bisons within three with 5:21 to play.
After two free throws by the Spartans, Justin Glenn converted a second chance opportunity to put Lipscomb back within three with 4:01 left. He was fouled on the play but missed the opportunity at the line.
With Lipscomb down four, Slater missed the front end of a one-and-one with 55.2 seconds left. Upstate made eight free throws in the final 47 seconds to secure the victory.
Mezie Ozochukwu led Upstate with 13 points and eight rebounds. Eight Spartans scored at least eight points.
Lipscomb shot 42.4 percent from the floor and was 9-of-24 from beyond the arc for 37.5 percent. The Bisons made 9-of-13 attempts from the line.
The loss tumbles Lipscomb from first to fifth place in the Atlantic Sun standings with four games to play.
The Bisons drop to 13-12, 10-6 in the A-Sun and Upstate improves to 5-19, 5-10 in the A-Sun.
Lipscomb returns to action next Thursday as they travel to Ft. Myers, Fla., to face Florida Gulf Coast.