Jacksonville, Fla. – Sharmayne Edwards scored a team-high 17 points as USC Upstate had three players in double figures en route to a 59-50 victory over the North Florida Ospreys Thursday evening in A-Sun women’s basketball action inside UNF Arena.
The Spartans improve to 12-12 overall and 4-5 in the A-Sun, while North Florida falls to 10-14 on the season and 1-8 in conference play.
Edwards recorded 12 of her 17 points in the second half and added four rebounds, two assists and one steal. Brittany Starling collected her 8th double-double of the year with 15 points and 11 rebounds on 7-of-14 shooting, while Brittany Clency contributed 11 points. Maddie Herr came off the bench to shoot 3-of-4 overall and 2-for-2 from three for eight points. Travonda Haddock dished out a career-high five assists.
Paulina Zaveckaite finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Ospreys. Destinee Smith added 12 points after shooting 6-of-13 overall. Kadesia Johnson had six points and pulled down four rebounds along with Bailey Florin.
Clency came out on fire to start the game as the junior connected on four straight baskets, including three three-pointers, to give Upstate a 16-7 lead less than six minutes in. The three triples by Clency were part of four from long range to go in for the Spartans with Raven Jefferson recording the other. After Upstate increased its lead to nine on the Clency three, North Florida came out of a media timeout and went on a quick 6-0 run to cut the Spartans lead down to 16-13 with 12:47 left.
Starling followed with five consecutive points to push Upstate’s lead back to eight at 21-13 two minutes later. Johnson managed to get the Ospreys to within one, 24-23, with her layup at the 7:21 mark, but Starling answered with a layup to put the Spartans back ahead by three after both teams went without a basket for nearly three minutes. Smith gave North Florida its first lead, 27-26, since the start of the game with four minutes remaining after her layup.
The field goal by Smith sparked a run of six lead changes over the final 3:08 with both teams holding just a one-point advantage each time. Edwards sent Upstate into halftime in front 33-31 after her three with 25 seconds left answered a jumper from Zaveckaite.
The Spartans went scoreless for the first 4:28 of the second half as Smith tied the game at 33-33 during that period. Edwards ended the scoring drought with a three to put Upstate back in front 36-33 with 15:32 to go. Zaveckaite would score four of the next six points for the Ospreys to give them a 39-36 advantage at the 13:12 mark.
Edwards and Herr sparked a 15-0 run for Upstate over the ensuing 4:26 as it broke the game open to a 51-39 lead with 8:34 remaining. Herr compiled eight points highlighted by two three’s throughout the run while Edwards added seven. North Florida missed nine consecutive field-goal attempts and two free-throws as the Spartans took a game-high 12-point cushion. The Ospreys, courtesy of six points by Zaveckaite, fought back to within four of Upstate at 51-47 after her layup with 4:40 left.
The Spartans held off the rally to extend their lead back to ten, 57-47, on jumpers by Edwards, Starling and Shelby Hicks. Upstate limited North Florida to no field goals over the final 2:03 as Starling made the score 59-49 with 1:36 to go. Zaveckaite’s free-throw with 42 seconds left put the final score at 59-50.
USC Upstate finished the game shooting 47.6% (10-of-21) from beyond the three-point line and held the Ospreys to 0-of-8. Overall, Upstate went 24-of-69 (34.8%) and UNF 20-for-59 (33.9%).
The Spartans end their three-game road trip Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Jacksonville.