Durham, N.C. – USC Upstate freshman Riley Popplewell recorded her first career double-double as three Spartans finished in double figures in a 68-58 non-conference victory over North Carolina Central on Tuesday.
Upstate improves to 7-8 while N.C. Central drops to 1-11.
DeNisha Swain scored a game-high 16 points and had a career-high six steals. Raven Jefferson scored 14 points while Popplewell posted her first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and had a career-high three blocks.
Morgan Jones led N.C Central with 13 points, followed by Chantal Thomas with 12 points and Dominique Adams with 10. Deja McCain finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
- Swain opened the scoring with a 3-pointer six seconds into the game. The Lady Eagles tied the game at 5 following an Adams free throw before the Spartans went on an 11-0 run sparked by a Vanessa Agrusa 3-pointer to lead 16-5 with 5:26 to go in the quarter. Upstate led 18-9 at the end of the frame.
- C. Central slashed the Spartan advantage to a point, 25-24, thanks to an Adams layup at the 3:16 mark of the second quarter. Bailey Wensler pushed the Upstate advantage to 31-25 with just over two minutes to play in the frame following a 3-pointer before the Lady Eagles closed out the quarter on a 5-0 run as Upstate led 31-30 at halftime.
- Upstate opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run as a Popplewell basket gave the Spartans a double-digit lead, 42-32, at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter. The Spartans led 50-41 at the end of the quarter following a Thomas layup just before the buzzer.
- Popplewell gave the Spartans a game-high 13-point lead, 59-46, following a pair of free throws with 4:33 to play in the fourth quarter. Kierona Morton’s layup with 2:03 remaining brought the hosts to within five points, 59-54. Upstate responded with a Swain layup and would lead by no fewer than eight points down the stretch.
By the Numbers
- Except for 25 seconds when the game was tied, Upstate led for the entire game.
- Upstate held a 49-42 edge in rebounds.
- The Spartans converted 23 Lady Eagle turnovers into 24 points while N.C. Central scored 15 points off of 17 Upstate turnovers.
- C. Central outshot Upstate 37.7 percent to 32.9 percent. It is the first game this season the Spartans have won when their opponent had a higher field goal percentage.
- Upstate opens ASUN play on Saturday against NJIT at 4:30 p.m.