Spartanburg, S.C. – Shelby Hicks’s turnaround jumper with no time left on the clock propelled USC Upstate to a thrilling 66-64 victory over the Jacksonville Dolphins Thursday evening in A-Sun women’s basketball action inside the Hodge Center.
The Spartans improve to 10-11 overall and 2-4 in the conference, while the Dolphins drop to 6-13 on the season and 1-5 in league play.
Brittany Starling scored a game-high 16 points to lead Upstate offensively and finished one rebound shy of a double-double with a team-best nine. Sharmayne Edwards added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Hicks had nine points and Travonda Haddock eight. Raven Jefferson scored seven points along with Edwards.
Briona Brown led four Jacksonville players in double-figures with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting at the free-throw line. Sherranda Reddick finished with 13 points, and Loliya Briggs and Brandi Buie had 10 each. Kimberly Dawkins and Kayla Gordon both recorded seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Hicks created the scoring opportunity after a missed jumper by Edwards with four seconds left on the clock. The senior got the rebound after the attempt from Edwards hit the back of the rim and was forced into a shot going away from the basket. Hicks made a quick turn off the rebound and her shot went through the net just as time expired.
The Dolphins had rallied from six points down with just over six minutes left in the game and tied the score 60-60 after Brown’s jumper at the 3:51 mark. Briggs gave Jacksonville its first lead of the contest 1:24 later as her jumper put JU in front 62-60. Starling answered with a pair of free-throws and then made it a 64-62 game the next possession with a jumper in the paint. Buie tied the game again at 64-64 ten seconds later following her field goal. That left the Spartans with 23 seconds to secure the game-winner from Hicks.
Upstate limited Jacksonville to 5-of-26 shooting in the first half but the Dolphins were able to stay close courtesy of a 14-for-20 mark at the charity stripe. The Spartans held JU to without a basket for the opening 10:12 with the Dolphins scoring all nine of their points at the free-throw line. Upstate led by as many as five during that stretch after Clency’s jumper put it ahead 12-7 with 11:41 left.
Edwards gave the Spartans their largest lead of the first half at 24-15 after her basket with 5:55 remaining. Jacksonville rallied to get to within three, 26-23, at the 2:07 mark on a free-throw by Reddick. Edwards increased the Upstate lead to 28-23 with 11 seconds left before the half, but Buie raced the length of the court and put in a layup right before the buzzer. The Spartans led 28-25 at intermission.
The Spartans scored six of the first eight points of the second half to lead 34-27 with 17:30 remaining after a layup by Edwards. The Dolphins responded with an 8-2 run to trim Upstate’s lead down to one, 36-35, on a field goal by Dawkins less than three minutes later. Upstate held off the JU rally to push its lead back to nine when a layup by Hicks put the score at 45-36. Hicks connected on the only three-pointer of the game for the Spartans as her triple pushed the lead out to 52-44 with 9:54 to go.
Upstate finished the game shooting 43.3% (29-of-67) as a team while Jacksonville went 20-for-58 (34.5%) overall. The Spartans posted nine blocks for the second straight contest with Haddock leading the way with three, while Hicks and A’Lexxus Davis had two apiece.
USC Upstate hosts North Florida Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.