Brittany Starling compiled her third double-double of the season Thursday evening as the USC Upstate women’s basketball team earned its second straight victory following an 84-51 win over the Southern Wesleyan Lady Warriors inside the Hodge Center.
Upstate improves to 3-1 overall and now hits the road for three straight games beginning Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. against IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Starling finished with a game-high 28 points and 16 rebounds after shooting 11-of-15 from the field, falling just one made field goal shy of tying her career-high. Kristen Dickerson added 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals, and posted a 6-for-7 mark at the free throw line. Raven Jefferson also dished out a career-high seven assists.
Chelsie Waters had a team-high 12 points for Southern Wesleyan. Gabrielle Bates, Cayse Branyon and Abigail Welch each recorded seven rebounds.
The Spartans held the Lady Warriors to just six first quarter points as they led 19-6 after the opening period. Upstate began the game on a 14-2 run over the first 4:11 as Starling collected seven of her 28 points during that stretch. Starling’s two free throws with 5:49 left gave the Spartans a 12-point cushion. After Southern Wesleyan trimmed Upstate’s lead to 16-6 after a pair of free throws by Aneysa Williams, the Spartans did not allow another point over the final 2:20 as free throws from Dickerson and DeNisha Swain gave them the 13-point lead.
Upstate led by as many as 18 points twice in the second quarter with the first coming at the 5:58 mark as Starling’s layup made it a 27-9 contest. Three straight free throws by Shelby Gilbert sparked a 12-2 run for the Lady Warriors to trim their deficit down to 29-21 with 2:32 remaining. The Spartans outscored Southern Wesleyan 10-2 the rest of the period and went back ahead 39-21 with 12 seconds remaining on another free throw by Starling.
Upstate pushed its lead over 20 for the first time in the game early in the third quarter when Brittany Clency pushed its advantage out to 45-24 with 7:04 to go following her jumper. The Spartans would lead by at least 21 three more times in the quarter with the last coming on an A’Lexxus Davis jumper with 20 seconds remaining to give them a 59-38 cushion.
The fourth quarter saw Upstate record 25 of the 36 points scored including the first 14 as it built its lead out to 74-40 on a jumper by Vanessa Agrusa as the period reached the half way mark. The Spartans took their largest lead of the game with 1:39 left after two free throws from Swain gave Upstate an 83-47 lead. The Lady Warriors scored the game’s last four points to put the final score at 84-51.
Upstate concluded the game shooting 39.5% (30-of-76) while Southern Wesleyan was limited to 21.9% (16-of-73) overall.
The Spartans held the advantage in points in the paint (38-16), points off turnovers (14-12), second chance points (17-14) and fast break points (8-0).
Tonight marked the first time since the 2010-11 season that Upstate has scored over 80 points in back-to-back games. The last time came Dec. 16-18, 2010 when the Spartans defeated Campbell 85-71 and Radford 87-81.