Ty Greene scored 18 points and had four steals and USC Upstate won its fifth straight game following a 68-54 victory over Kennesaw State Saturday afternoon from the Hodge Center.
Fred Miller added 16 points, six assists and three steals to help Upstate defeat Kennesaw State for the eighth straight time inside the Hodge Center. Michael Buchanan finished with eight points and 10 rebounds and ShunQuez Stephens had six points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
Nigel Pruitt led Kennesaw State with a career-high 32 points and was 10-for-21 from the field. Yonel Brown chipped in with 10 points and seven assists.
Pruitt gave Kennesaw State its largest lead of the game when his three-pointer at the 5:15 mark of the first half put the Owls ahead 22-16. Jacob Schulte answered on the other end with a layup to ignite a 13-0 run over the next 5:06 that left the Spartans leading 29-22 just before halftime. Four free throws by Kennesaw State in the final seconds cut the deficit to four heading into halftime.
Brown hit a three-pointer midway through the second half that trimmed the Upstate lead to 44-43, but the Spartans responded by scoring the next nine points to build a 53-43 advantage. Miller capped the run by deflecting an Owl pass that appeared to be headed out of bounds. Greene, however, dove towards the loose ball and tapped it ahead, allowing Miller to secure it and race in for an uncontested dunk.
Pruitt scored the next nine points to pull Kennesaw State to within one point with 7:31 remaining. Greene accounted for four of the next six Upstate points to push the lead back to 59-52 with just over six minutes left.
Kennesaw State fought back and trailed by just one point with just under three minutes left on the clock following two free throws from Delbert Love. Mario Blessed hit a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to put Upstate ahead 63-60.
Pruitt struck again with a jumper from the wing to cut the lead to one with 1:58 remaining. Blessing gave Upstate a 66-62 lead just over a minute later with a three-pointer, but Pruitt answered by hitting his sixth trey of the day to leave Kennesaw down 66-65.
After a turnover by the Spartans on the next possession, Buchanan blocked Pruitt’s jumper in the lane and Greene secured the rebound and hit both free throws to seal the win.
Upstate returns to action Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when the Spartans travel to Nashville, Tenn., to face Lipscomb from Allen Arena.