Jackie Luna-Castro scored 16 points to lead College of Charleston from 11 points down in the second half to defeat USC Upstate 61-60 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from TD Arena.
The Spartans fall to 7-6 on the season while the Cougars improve to 2-9.
Brittany Starling led all players with her fourth double-double of the season on a career-high 30 points and 14 rebounds. She is the first Upstate player since Tee’Ara Copney at Mercer on Feb. 4, 2012 to score 30 or more points in a game. Starling finished the game shooting 12-of-19 overall and was 6-for-9 at the free-throw line. Sharmayne Edwards added 11 points.
Luna-Castro was one of three College of Charleston players to finish with 10 or more points as Christy Hewatt and Breanna Bolden added 14 each. Hewatt grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for the Cougars.
The Spartans held a 48-37 lead with 11:21 to go in the game on an A’Lexxus Davis layup, capping a 9-2 run for Upstate covering a span of nearly three minutes. College of Charleston had cut the Spartan advantage to three, 39-36, after Hewatt’s jumper, but would not score again until the 10:21 mark on a layup by Bolden.
Maddie Herr’s three gave Upstate a 53-45 lead just under nine minutes left in the game before the Cougars got to within four, 56-52, on Luna-Castro’s layup with 4:46 remaining. Bolden scored four straight points to give College of Charleston its first lead of the half at 57-56 with two minutes left on the clock. Starling responded to give the Spartans the lead back, but Upstate would go scoreless for the next 1:34 while Shiclasia Brown and Erin Hall connected on four straight field-goals to give the Cougars the win.
College of Charleston opened the game on a 14-3 run as the Spartans struggled offensively making one of their first ten field-goal attempts. Luna-Castro and Hewatt combined for 12 of the 14 points with Luna-Castro scoring eight. Hall’s jumper at the 13:10 mark gave the Cougars an 11-point lead.
Upstate followed with a 7-2 run over the following 3:48 to cut their deficit down to six, 16-10, on a layup by Lauren Bogle. Starling paced the run with five points, and later made it a one-point game when her jumper put the score at 20-19 with 4:06 remaining. College of Charleston managed to push its lead back to four, but Upstate was able to tie the game 24-24 with 2:24 to go on a Raven Jefferson layup. Starling scored the final four points for the Spartans to send them into halftime ahead 30-26.
Upstate went to Starling early in the second half with the junior recording the first seven points to give the Spartans a 37-30 lead two minutes into the period. Elesha Foster would put Upstate in front 39-30 three possessions later.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 32.9% (23-of-70) as a team and went 10-for-16 (62.5) at the charity stripe. The Cougars shot 25-for-54 (46.3%) overall and 11-of-15 (73.3%) from the free-throw line.
Upstate returns to the Hodge Center Saturday afternoon as it hosts Norfolk State at 1 p.m.