DeLand, Fla. – The Stetson Hatters overcame a 13-point second half deficit to defeat the USC Upstate men’s basketball team 89-86 in overtime Thursday evening from the Edmunds Center.
Upstate’s four-game winning streak comes to an end as it falls to 7-12 on the season and 1-1 in conference play, while Stetson improves to 7-11 overall and 1-2 in the league.
Mike Cunningham scored a career-high 21 points to lead five Spartans in double-figures. Michael Buchanan added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds, Josh Cuthbertson 13, and Marvin Smith and Jure Span with 10 each. Span also dished out five assists, while Cunningham and Deion Holmes both had four.
Derrick Newton led all players with 30 points and collected a double-double on 10 rebounds for the Hatters. Brian Pegg also had a double-double on 16 points and 11 rebounds. Angel Rivera contributed 11 assists.
Upstate started the game on a 12-5 run over the first four minutes and took a seven-point lead on a three by Cuthbertson. The Spartans would lead by as many as eight to start following a free throw from Holmes with 12:47 to go. Stetson answered with six of the next eight points on three-pointers by Leo Goodman and Luke Doyle to cut Upstate’s lead to 17-13 at the 11:46 mark.
The Spartans would stretch their lead out to 20-13 just over a minute later on a layup by Jacob Schulte, but the Hatters responded with a 9-3 run to get to within one, 23-22, with 7:41 remaining. Upstate quickly pushed its advantage back to six, 28-22, on a layup by Cuthbertson and a three from Cunningham.
After Stetson cut its deficit to 32-30 with 2:58 to go in the first half, the Spartans finished on a 9-3 run to lead 41-33 at intermission. Upstate took its largest lead of the period with 58 seconds left after a dunk by Smith made the score 41-30.
The Hatters began the second half by cutting the Spartans lead down to three points three times with the last coming at the 16:13 mark on a layup by Pegg. Upstate responded by going on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to go back in front 53-42 on Span’s triple. The Spartans took their largest lead of the game with 12:34 to go when a layup by Philip Whittington gave them a 57-44 advantage.
Upstate would be held to just two points over the proceeding five minutes as Stetson, courtesy of a 17-2 run, took a 61-59 lead with 7:28 left after a three-pointer by Newton. Buchanan, Cunningham and Smith combined for five straight points during the ensuing three minutes as the Spartans retook the lead at 69-65. The lead would change hands six times after that, and tied three times, as the teams finished regulation tied 76-76. Cunningham gave Upstate a 76-75 lead with 27 seconds left, but Divine Myles evened the score the following possession with his free throw.
The Spartans went ahead 81-78 to open the overtime period when Cuthbertson connected on a three-pointer at the 3:53 mark, only to see Newton convert on a three-point play to tie the score again at 81-81. Span nailed a jumper as the clock hit 49 seconds to give Upstate an 86-85 lead, but that would be the last points it would score.
Newton scored four of the final six points for the Hatters, all at the charity stripe, to send them to the 89-86 victory.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 50.0% (33-of-66) from the field and 42.9% (9-of-21) from three. Stetson was 32-of-65 (49.2%) overall and 11-of-29 (37.9%) behind the three-point arc.
Upstate held a 12-11 advantage in points off turnovers, 15-11 in second chance points and 28-22 in points from the bench.
The Spartans conclude their conference-opening three-game road trip Saturday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. against Florida Gulf Coast.