ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Brittany Starling scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds as USC Upstate  held off UNC Asheville 67-66 in women’s basketball action at Kimmel Arena Saturday afternoon.


The Bulldogs (4-4) had three chances to win the game in the final seconds of the game but the Spartans (4-5) got two blocked shots from Brittany Clency and was able to hold for the one-point victory.


Asheville was led by Shonese Jones with 13 points, while Brittany Gwyn contributed 12 points. She was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Leah Wormack chipped in 10 points.


Alex Stanford added 14 points for USC Upstate, while Clency had 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.


“We just didn’t execute enough on offense to win the game,” stated Asheville second-year coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “We had 13 turnovers in the first half and allowed USC Upstate to get some second and third shots.


“Our effort was good but we just didn’t do enough to win the game,” added Kirkpatrick. “We’ll learn from this game and be better for it down the road.”


A free throw from Alex Stanford put the Spartans in front 67-64 with 23 seconds left. Asheville quickly came down and scored on a jumper from Wormack at the 14-second mark to cut the lead to 67-66.


After a Bulldog timeout, Valese McAllister was fouled with 12.8 seconds remaining. She missed the first and made the second. However, the second free throw was waved off due to a lane violation.


Asheville had a chance to win the game. Jada Brayboy’s running 10-footer missed, and Clency came down with the rebound. Paige Love of Asheville was able to tie up Clency, and the arrow favored the Bulldogs.


On the inbounds play, Love tried to get off a five-footer but Clency blocked the shot out of bounds with 0.8 seconds left. Love got the ball again and tried to get a shot off, but Clency was able to block the shot as the buzzer sounded, allowing the Spartans to escape with the victory.


Asheville dominated the first 10 minutes of the game as it went 9-of-12 from the field and raced to a 22-9 lead. But USC Upstate stiffened on defense and allowed the Bulldogs to score just three points the rest of the half. The home team led 25-22 at halftime.


In the second half, Asheville built the lead to 33-24 on a jumper from Wormack. But once again the Spartans rallied. Clency scored eight points to lead a 14-2 run that allowed the visitors to take a 38-35 lead.


The lead went back-and-forth before USC Upstate went on a 6-0 run at the five-minute mark to surge to a 60-56 lead.


The Spartans led 64-62 with less than a minute left when Clency hit  big jumper with the shot-clock winding down to give USC Upstate a 66-62 lead at the 53-second mark.


Asheville had a tough day shooting as the Bulldogs shot just .339 (20-of-59) from the field. The Spartans shot .387 (24-of-62) from the field but .459 (17-of-37) in the second half.


Each team grabbed 40 rebounds with USC Upstate earning a 22-15 advantage on second-chance points.  


UNC Asheville is back in action Wednesday night when the Bulldogs visit Campbell for a 7 p.m. Big South Conference contest.