Spartanburg, S.C. (USC Upstate SID) – Mike Cunningham’s three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining gave the USC Upstate men’s basketball team its second straight victory Saturday afternoon following a 70-68 win over the UMKC Kangaroos in non-conference play from the Hodge Center.
Upstate improves to 5-11 on the season while UMKC drops to 7-8.
Cunningham finished with a team-high 18 points, tying his career-best scoring effort, for the Spartans and was one of four players to finish in double-figures. Michael Buchanan and Deion Holmes each had 12 points, and Josh Cuthbertson added 11. Buchanan had a game-high seven rebounds, and dished out a career-high four assists along with Cuthbertson.
Martez Harrison led all players with 21 points for the Kangaroos while Dashawn King contributed 15.
King opened the scoring for UMKC with a dunk before Upstate tied the game on a Buchanan jumper two possessions later. After the teams were tied at the first media timeout, Jacob Schulte gave the Spartans the lead with a layup before the Kangaroos answered with a Harrison three-pointer. UMKC lead 11-8 after another dunk by King before Upstate went ahead 12-11 on layups from Cunningham and Holmes. LaVaell Boyd sank a pair of free throws to give the UMKC a 22-19 lead at the 7:16 mark before Cuthbertson completed the old-fashioned three-point play to tie the contest at 22-22.
The Spartans would then go on an 11-0 run capped by a Cuthbertson three-pointer for a 33-23 lead with 3:19 to play in the opening half. UMKC answered with a 7-2 run to pull within five, 35-30, before Malik Moore caught an inbounds pass from Schulte and beat the buzzer to send Upstate into halftime leading by seven.
Buchanan opened the second half with a tip-in basket as the Spartans enjoyed a 39-30 cushion before the Kangaroos cut the Upstate lead to six, 41-35, at the 16:56 mark. Schulte gave the hosts a 47-36 edge with a jumper just over a minute later. Shayok Shayok brought UMKC to within seven, 51-44, before Cuthbertson sank a three-pointer to push the Spartan edge back to 54-44 with just over 12 minutes remaining.
The Kangaroos responded with a 12-2 run capped by a Kyle Steward layup to tie the game at 56-56 with 9:08 remaining. Following a Lavell Boyd three-pointer that gave UMKC a 59-58 edge, Upstate used layups from Buchanan and Schulte to gain a 62-59 advantage. Boyd reclaimed the lead for the visitors by completing a three-point play to give UMKC a 64-62 lead with just under five minutes to play. The Spartans cut the UMKC advantage to 66-65 after a Cunningham three before King connected on a pair of free throws for a 68-65 lead with 2:55 remaining.
Holmes brought Upstate to within one, 68-67, following two free throws with 48 seconds left. On the next Kangaroo possession, the Spartans forced Harrison into a turnover setting the stage for Cunningham’s game-winning three. The Kangaroos still had a chance to send the game into overtime with two seconds left, but Darius Austin missed a layup and Schulte sealed the win for Upstate with his rebound.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 47.4% (27-of-57) while UMKC posted a 50.0% (23-of-46) mark as a team.
Upstate held a 24-13 advantage in points off turnovers while its bench outscored the Kangaroos 26-10.
The Spartans close out non-conference play Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. as they host North Carolina A&T.