The USC Upstate women’s basketball team opened A-Sun play Saturday afternoon with a 72-63 loss to the Kennesaw State Owls inside the Hodge Center.
Upstate falls to 8-8 overall and 0-1 in the conference, while Kennesaw State improves to 12-4 on the season and 1-0 in league play.
Sharmayne Edwards scored a team-high 15 points for the Spartans and led three players in double-figures along with Kristen Dickerson (14) and Brittany Clency (11). Shelby Hicks grabbed seven rebounds to lead Upstate, and Brittany Starling and A’Lexxus Davis finished with six each.
Deandrea Sawyers had a game-high 21 points for the Owls while Jasmine McAllister picked up a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kristina Wells added 12 rebounds.
Kennesaw State began the game on a 7-2 run and took a five-point lead with 15:50 left after a jumper by Valescia Dixon. The Spartans followed with five straight from Dickerson to tie the game 7-7 just over two minutes later. Sawyers gave KSU the lead back on the next possession with a three. The Owls would hold a four-point cushion twice after that with the last coming at the 10:45 mark when a layup by Wells gave them a 14-10 advantage.
Upstate took its first lead of the game with 6:34 left before the half when Raven Jefferson’s layup put the score at 16-15. The teams traded the lead six times over the next 4:07 when a basket from Jefferson gave the Spartans a 26-25 lead with 2:07 remaining. Kennesaw State ended the half on an 8-0 run with Sawyers knocking down two three’s in the final 29 seconds to send the Owls into halftime ahead 33-26.
After Starling began the second half with a layup to cut Upstate’s deficit to 33-28, Kennesaw State used a 16-1 run over a 6:41 stretch to take a 49-29 lead over the Spartans capped by a jumper from McAllister. Karly Frye would give KSU its largest lead of the game, 56-35, with her three at the 9:49 mark.
Upstate rallied with a 13-2 run of its own, covering just 2:12, to trim the Kennesaw State lead down to 64-56 with 4:24 to go. Edwards recorded seven of the 13 points during the run as the Owls were limited to two free-throws from McAllister and Wells. That would be as close as the Spartans got as KSU scored the next four points to go back in front by 11. A pair of free-throws by Wells gave the Owls the 72-63 victory.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 40.6% (26-of-64) as a team and 72.7% (8-for-11) at the free-throw line. Kennesaw State went 28-of-59 (47.5%) overall and connected on 7-of-17 three-pointers for a 41.2% clip.
Upstate hosts Lipscomb Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.