Highland Heights, Ky. – The USC Upstate women’s basketball team dropped a close 77-74 road decision to the Northern Kentucky Norse on Saturday evening in A-Sun action from The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Upstate falls to 9-9 on the season and 1-2 in A-Sun play, while the Norse improve to 11-7 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
Brittany Starling notched her seventh double-double of the season with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead three Spartans in double-figures. Brittany Clency tied her season-high of 18 points while grabbing eight rebounds and Mar’Lisa Braxton came off the bench to score her highest point total at Upstate with 12 points.
Rianna Gayheart led five NKU players in double-digits with 13 points and Christine Roush added 12. Melody Doss, Kelley Wiegman and Kasey Uetrecht each had 10 points. Wiegman and Uetrecht both collected a team-high six rebounds.
The Norse overcame a four-point deficit with six minutes left to lead 77-74 in the game’s final seconds. The Spartans had possession of the ball for the final field-goal attempt, but missed on three straight three’s to force overtime.
After Starling gave Upstate a 68-64 lead with 6:01 left, NKU raced back less than a minute later to tie the game 70-70. Clency made it a 73-70 contest two possessions later with her three-pointer, only to see Roush knock down a three to equal the score at 73-73. Braxton put the lead back on the Spartans side, 74-73, with her free-throw. Gayheart and Mikayla Terry scored the game’s final four points as both teams went scoreless over the final 2:34.
Northern Kentucky opened the game on an 8-2 run over the first 2:17 capped on Kaitlyn Gerrety’s three-point play to put the Norse in front by six. Upstate responded with an 11-0 run to take a 13-8 lead after a jumper by Starling. Following a media timeout, NKU came out to score the next six points to go in front 14-13, but Shelby Hicks answered with a free-throw to tie the game.
A three by Uetrecht lifted the Norse to a 29-20 lead courtesy of a 15-6 run over a 4:08 stretch, and Wiegman later pushed their lead to 35-24 on a layup. Alex Stanford managed to cut the Spartan deficit to 35-27 after a basket and free-throw, but Wiegman pushed NKU’s advantage back to ten, 37-27, with her layup
Upstate concluded the final 4:10 of the half outscoring Northern Kentucky 14-6 to head into the break trailing 44-41. The Spartans were able to get to within one, 42-41, on Starling’s layup with eight seconds remaining, but Wiegman raced the length of the court to hit a buzzer-beating jumper with no time left the clock.
The Norse jumped out to a 49-45 lead to start the second half before Upstate came back with a 9-0 run to go ahead 54-49 on Stanford’s three. Northern Kentucky was able to even the score at 54-54 on Gayheart’s tip-in leading to six lead changes over a six-minute span.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 45.2% (28-of-62) as a team while NKU went 28-of-57 for a 49.1% clip.
Upstate continues its three-game road trip next Thursday when it travels to Fort Myers, Fla. to face Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m.