The Lady Bisons started out quickly but couldn’t sustain the pace in a 63-51 loss to Upstate’s Spartans Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena.
After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, including back-to-back layups by freshman forward Hannah Phillips, the Lady Bisons watched their lead slowly disappear.
“We got off to a good start and they shifted to the 1-3-1 out of their man defense,” said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. “We had some good looks and missed them.
“We got frustrated and couldn’t work ourselves out of it. It carried over to letdowns on the defensive end for us. We have to break out of those stretches a little quicker.”
Upstate guard Koko Richardson tied the game at 16-16 with a pair of free throws with 8:47 remaining before intermission. A lay-up by forward Christine Nyobe with 7:28 on the clock gave Upstate its first lead of the game at 18-16.
Upstate’s Spartans closed out the first half with a 17-3 run to take control of the game.
The Lady Bisons kept the game close though they never were able to regain the lead. The biggest advantage for Upstate was 11 points, 40-29, on a layup by guard Kendra Wallace with 15:57 left in the game.
Several times during the second half Upstate would lead by 10 points, but the Lady Bisons continued to try to chip away at their deficit.
The Lady Bisons wanted to neutralize 6-foot center Chelsea McMillan who scored a combined 56 points against the Lady Bisons in two games last season. They held her to only six points, but Wallace took over the scoring burden for Upstate with a game-high 21 points.
“If you had told me before the game that McMillan would only have six points I would have thought for sure that we would win the game,” Bennett said. “We knew she was a good 3-pointer shooter, but we didn’t play Wallace very well.
“The way they ran their offense made it hard for is to guard both McMillan and Wallace. We weren’t sharp on helping on some things. Defensively, in the second half I was disappointed because we got our offense going and couldn’t get the stops we needed.”
Sophomore guard Anna Bowers played an outstanding game, tying freshman forward Hannah Phillips for the team lead in scoring.
“Anna Bowers and Hannah Phillips both shot the ball very, very well scoring on two and three pointers,” Bennett said. “They were bright spots for us.”
With 4:07 left in the game she connected on a 3-pointer to trim USC Upstate’s lead to five points, 55-50.
“In the second half we regrouped and executed our offense a lot better,” Bennett said. “We finally made a couple of stops and got it to five points.”
McMillan hit a layup to give Upstate a seven-point lead at 57-50. Phillips went to the free throw line for two shots at 2:55. She missed her first attempt and made her second one to cut the lead to 57-51.
Sophomore center Brittany Duerk led the Lady Bisons in rebounding with six. Bowers and freshman center Katie Fritts each grabbed four rebounds.
Nyobe led Upstate with seven boards.
The Lady Bisons are 3-12, 1-4 in the A-Sun. USC Upstate, on a three-game winning streak, is 9-6, 3-3 in the conference. It is the first time in the history of the program that Upstate has posted a .500 record in A-Sun games. it is also the first time Upstate has beaten the Lady Bisons at Allen Arena.
Monday night the Lady Bisons are back in action at 5:30 when Belmont visits Allen Arena for the first edition of the “Battle of the Boulevard” this season.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations