– Justin Taylor scored four of Western Carolina’s nine points in overtime as the Catamounts rallied to defeat USC Upstate 63-59 in overtime Saturday afternoon during non-conference action inside the Ramsey Center.
The Spartans fall to 4-5 on the season while Western Carolina improves to 5-3.
Sharmayne Edwards finished with a game-high 16 points for Upstate to lead three players in double-figures. Maddie Herr tied her career-high of 12 points while Brittany Starling added 10. Starling also recorded her second double-double of the season after tying for a game-high 10 rebounds.
Taylor finished with a team-best 15 points for the Catamounts as nine of those came at the free-throw line. Emily Hatfield collected 10 points and Makensey Campbell grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Spartans led by as many six in the game’s final minute when a three by Shelby Hicks put Upstate ahead 52-46. Western Carolina fought back to tie the game with nine seconds left on a three by Ali Lane, her second in the final 52 seconds, sending the game into overtime.
Taylor and Brianne Mack gave the Catamounts a 58-54 lead to start the overtime period as Mack’s layup with 3:32 left increased the WCU cushion to four. Raven Jefferson answered two possessions later with a three to make it a 60-59 contest, but the Spartans did not score after that as three free-throws by Kyia Hough sealed the four-point victory for the Catamounts.
Upstate scored the first four points of the game as it held Western Carolina scoreless over the opening 3:56. Edwards gave the Spartans a 4-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest, but the Catamounts quickly cut their deficit to one on a three by Campbell. The three sparked a 12-2 run covering nearly four minutes. A layup by Lane capped the run as Western Carolina led 12-6 at the 11:54 mark.
The Catamounts would push their lead to seven before back-to-back three’s by Herr cut Upstate’s deficit to 15-14 with 6:49 remaining. Western Carolina followed by extending its lead back to six, 23-17, after a three-point play by Taylor. The Catamounts held a six-point advantage twice the rest of the half with the last coming at the 1:30 mark on Lindsey Burleson’s layup to give WCU a 27-21 lead. Edwards and Starling combined to score the final five points of the period to send the Spartans into halftime trailing 27-26.
Western Carolina began the second half by scoring the first six points to take a 33-26 lead during the opening 2:16. Upstate used a 9-2 run over the next 3:17 to even the score at 35-35 with 13:27 remaining. Two free-throws by Starling the following possession gave the Spartans their first lead, 37-35, since the start of the game.
The Catamounts got to within one twice over the proceeding eight minutes, only to see Upstate stretch its lead to a game-high seven with 4:54 remaining. Edwards tallied four points during that run, while Herr and Kristen Dickerson had three each. Herr gave the Spartans a 47-40 lead after connecting on three free-throws.
Upstate finished the game shooting 29.9% (20-of-67) as a team and was 8-for-28 (28.6%) behind the three-point line. The Spartans were successful on 11 of their 15 free-throw attempts for a 73.3% clip.
Western Carolina shot 31.7% (20-of-63) overall and contributed 19-of-25 (76.0%) free-throws. WCU hit 4-of-18 three-pointers.
Upstate returns to the Hodge Center for the first of three straight next Saturday, Dec. 13, as it hosts Maryland Eastern Shore at 2 p.m.