Starling, Edwards Lead Upstate Past North Florida 61-49

January 31, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Spartanburg, S.C. – Brittany Starling scored a game-high 16 points and Sharmayne Edwards added 11 as the USC Upstate women’s basketball team picked up a 61-49 win over the North Florida Ospreys Saturday afternoon in A-Sun action from the Hodge Center.

Upstate evens its overall record at 11-11 and move to 3-4 in the conference, while North Florida falls to 10-12 on the season and 1-6 in league play.

Starling turned in a consistent scoring effort after shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 6-for-7 at the free-throw line. Edwards connected on 3-of-4 three-pointers while Mar’Lisa Braxton came off the bench to score nine on 4-of-6 shooting. Travonda Haddock grabbed a team-high six rebounds, and Edwards and Raven Jefferson each had five. Jefferson also dished out a career-high six assists.

Bailey Florin led the Ospreys with 14 points and five steals as UNF had three players score in double-figures. Paulina Zaveckaite and Destinee Smith both had 11 points with Zaveckaite pulling down a game-high nine rebounds. Smith also contributed seven assists and four steals.

The Spartans shot 50.0% (14-of-28) in the first half as Edwards recorded all 11 of her points during the period. Upstate held a three-point advantage to start the game after a triple by Edwards gave the Spartans an early 7-4 lead less than four minutes in. After Florin cut Upstate’s lead to 9-8 with a jumper, Starling answered with a basket and Edwards a three to extend its lead out to 14-6 at the 14:06 mark.

Zaveckaite’s layup with 11:19 remaining made it a 16-12 contest, but the Spartans would hold UNF scoreless for the next 5:36 as they pushed their lead to 23-12 following a layup by Jefferson. Upstate went on a 6-0 run during that stretch with Edwards connecting on another three and a Braxton layup. North Florida was only able to get as close as eight the rest of the half after a three by Florin with 3:37 to go.

Following the three from Florin, Upstate outscored the Ospreys 9-2 over the last 3:10 to head into halftime ahead 36-21. The Spartans used a 9-0 run to take their largest lead of the half, 36-19, on a jumper by Haddock. Lindsey Levings halted the Upstate run with her basket 12 seconds before intermission.

The Spartans led by double-digits for the first 6:17 of the second half before North Florida used a 7-0 run to trail 40-33. The 7-0 run by the Ospreys covered a 1:40 span with Levings’s jumper putting North Florida down seven. Upstate held off the UNF charge and quickly extended its lead back to 15 when a three by Shelby Hicks made it 48-33 at the 9:43 mark. The triple from Hicks capped an 8-0 run for the Spartans.

The Ospreys were never able to get back to within single-digits after that with Upstate taking its largest lead of the game with 3:15 remaining when Starling’s free-throw, completing a three-point play, pushed the Spartans cushion to 59-40. Starling scored the final nine points for Upstate with UNF compiling six of its last nine points at the charity stripe.

The Spartans concluded the game shooting 44.6% (25-of-56) as a team and were 7-for-9 (77.8%) from the free-throw line. North Florida went 19-of-59 (32.2%) overall.

Upstate hits the road for three consecutive games beginning next Saturday, Feb. 7, at 12 p.m. against Kennesaw State.