Michael Buchanan scored a career-high 31 points as the USC Upstate men’s basketball team dropped a 78-62 decision to the North Florida Ospreys Thursday evening inside the Hodge Center.
Upstate falls to 7-14 overall and 1-3 in league action, while North Florida improves to 16-6 on the season and 5-0 in the A-Sun.
Buchanan scored 17 of his 31 points in the first half while finishing with a team-high seven rebounds and two blocks. He is the first Spartan to eclipse the 30-point scoring plateau since Ty Greene tallied 31 against Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 21, 2015, after going 14-of-22 from the field on Thursday. Deion Holmes scored 11 points. Josh Cuthbertson tied for a game-high with five assists.
The Ospreys had six players score in double-figures led by Dallas Moore and Nick Malonga with 16 points each. Demarcus Daniels added 12 points and Trent Mackey 11, and Beau Beech and Chris Davenport both had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Upstate scored the game’s opening four points following a pair of baskets by Buchanan before UNF took the lead after an 8-0 run sparked by three’s from Malonga and Mackey. The Spartans responded courtesy of a 7-0 run as Buchanan completed a three-point play for a 15-11 edge with 13:30 to play in the opening half.
North Florida reclaimed the lead with a 10-0 run of its own capped by a Daniels layup at the 9:08 mark to put it ahead 21-15. Aaron Bodager gave the visitors a 29-19 advantage with a three-pointer with 7:17 remaining before Upstate cut the deficit to 31-26 following a Jure Span three-pointer with 4:31 to go. After being fouled while attempting a three with 2:17 to play, Cuthbertson sank two free throws to bring the Spartans to within three at 33-30. Malonga missed a last-second three-pointer as UNF led 39-32 at halftime.
North Florida began the second half on a 6-0 run for a 44-32 lead, prompting an Upstate timeout at the 18:17 mark. The Spartans responded with a 14-4 run after that to make the score 48-46 after a Malik Moore three-pointer with 12:24 to play. The Ospreys pushed the lead back to double digits, 59-48, on a Daniels dunk just over four minutes later.
Buchanan brought Upstate back to within eight, 60-52, on a layup with 6:27 to play before UNF outscored the Spartans 18-10 the rest of the way.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 41.3% (26-for-63) and North Florida posted a 43.8% (28-for-64) shooting mark. Upstate outscored UNF 38-34 in the paint, but the Ospreys converted 12 Spartan turnovers into 19 points.
Upstate remains at the Hodge Center Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. matchup against Jacksonville.