Women's basketball falls to Spartans, 69-60
The ETSU women's basketball team got off to a hot start and took a 27-22 lead into halftime, but late offensive struggles and increased efficiency on that end of the floor from USC Upstate in the second period were too much to overcome as the Bucs fell to the Spartans, 69-60, Saturday evening inside the Hodge Center.
With the loss, ETSU drops to 7-16 overall and 3-9 in the Atlantic Sun, while USC Upstate improves to 12-11 on the season and 7-5 in league play.
After a week off from competition, the Bucs were energized to start the contest, scoring the first five points of the game.
The Blue & Gold continued this burst during the early going, pulling ahead, 10-2, with 17:04 to go in first half. Contributing to ETSU's fast start was domination on the glass including multiple second-chance opportunities on the offensive end.
Following the Bucs taking their largest lead of the half of nine points, 14-5, with 11:41 to play in the opening period, the Spartans went on a 10-4 surge to pull within three, 18-15, with 5:28 to go in the half. Over the duration of the period, the Blue & Gold was able to keep hold of the lead, taking a 27-22 advantage into halftime.
To begin the second half, ETSU engaged in its usual fast-paced start, increasing its lead to as many as eight points, 34-26, with 17:16 left to play.
Upstate then responded with a 10-4 run over the next four minutes to pull within two, 38-36, with 13:48 to go. The Bucs answered over the next few minutes to stymie this Spartan surge, but a 10-3 burst from Upstate from the 10:13 to 7:35 marks knotted things up at 48.
A three-pointer with 5:15 left in the game gave Upstate its first lead of the game, 53-51, before ETSU answered to take back the lead, 55-53, on a free throw with 3:26 left. The final three minutes of the game featured two ties and two lead changes, but an 8-0 Spartan burst over the final two minutes allowed Upstate to come from behind to down the Bucs, 69-60.
USC Upstate featured four players in double-figures, highlighted by a game-high 17 points from Brittany Clency. Meanwhile, ETSU was led by a pair of double-doubles from post players Maria Bond and Serena Clark. Bond paced the Bucs on the scoring end with 15 points as well as a career-high 15 rebounds in her first career double-double, while Clark notched her ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The Spartans shot it at a 37 percent clip, aided by 50 percent shooting in the second half, and converted 20-of-28 (71 percent) from the free-throw line.
Upstate also held a sizeable advantage in the paint (30-18) and turned 19 ETSU turnovers into 20 points. Additionally, the Spartans got great contributions from their bench with 31 points and got out on the break for eight points.
ETSU struggled from the field at 31 percent and from behind the arc at 21 percent, but dominated Upstate on the boards with a season-high 60 rebounds. Featured among these 60 rebounds were 27 offensive which were converted into 26 second-chance points. Furthermore, the Blue & Gold converted on 11 free-throw chances and turned the Spartans over 11 times.
The Bucs will continue their road stretch with a trip to Kennesaw, Ga., to take on the Kennesaw State Owls Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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