SPARTANBURG, S.C. – With five seconds to go in the game and UNC Asheville trailing by two points, sophomore guard Shonese Jones broke the USC Upstate fullcourt press and put a 3-point attempt up from the top of the key, but the shot fell short as the Bulldogs fell to the Spartans, 54-52, at the Hodge Center.
Jones scored a season-high 23 points for the Bulldogs, who fell to 1-7 on the season with the setback.
“Our effort was there, but our execution has to improve,” said Asheville head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “We have to have a better response when they go on a run. We let them gain too much momentum, and we went away from what was working for us, which was execution, patience and composure."
Upstate improved to 4-5 and was led offensively by Tee’Ara Copney, who scored 12 for the Spartans. Shelby Hicks and Tyra Smith each scored 11 for the Spartans, with Smith converting a pair of free throws at the end of the game to give Upstate the two-point victory.
Jeannie Buckner scored nine for the Bulldogs, with Gentry Manley chipping in seven for Asheville. Grace Blaylock tallied six points and Kelli Riles five, while also pulling down 15 rebounds in the contest.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Spartans 42-38, but committed 20 turnovers to only 10 by Upstate.
The Bulldogs took a 27-19 lead into the half on the strength of Jones, who posted seven points in the opening frame. Blaylock, Buckner and Manley each scored six points for the Blue & White, with Riles chipping in a pair of free throws to the Bulldogs’ total.
Asheville was hot behind the 3-point arc in the first half, converting 5-of-11 treys.
A Jones 3-pointer with 13:04 remaining in the game gave Asheville a 37-23 lead, but the Spartans would go on a 19-5 run to tie the game at 42 points apiece. Upstate would retake the lead on a Copney Layup at the 6:47 mark.
Upstate pushed its lead to 50-44 with just over two minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs would fight back over the final minutes to tie the game at 52-52 with :13 seconds remaining. Smith would be fouled with five seconds left and would convert on both free throws.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday afternoon, when they welcome Columbia College to Kimmel Arena. The game is set begin at 2 p.m., and is a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team, who will take on Montreat College at 4:30 p.m.