Spartanburg, S.C. (USC Upstate SID) – The USC Upstate men’s basketball team used a second half run to earn a 79-73 victory over the Kennesaw State Owls in ASUN action on Saturday afternoon inside the Hodge Center.
Upstate improves to 15-9 overall and 5-2 at the halfway point of conference play while Kennesaw State falls to 9-14 and 3-4.
Mike Cunningham scored a game-high 22 points while playing a team-best 32 minutes. Philip Whittington scored 19 points off the bench while Josh Cuthbertson added 10 points. Cuthbertson and Whittington were each 5-for-6 at the free throw line. Ramel Thompkins pulled down 11 rebounds, all on the defensive glass.
Nick Masterson led three Kennesaw State players in double figures with 14 points. Aubrey Williams recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Kendrick Ray finished with 10 points.
- Cuthbertson got the Spartans on the board with a layup 24 seconds into the game before a Masterson 3-pointer gave the visitors a 14-10 lead with 14:58 to go in the first half.
- Kennesaw State went on a 9-2 run for a 23-12 lead following a Kyle Clarke jumper at the 11:04 mark.
- Upstate used a Deion Holmes layup and a Whittington free throw to trim the deficit to 26-22 with 8:15 remaining in the opening half.
- Kennesaw State’s lead would fluctuate between four and nine points before a James Scott free throw sent the Owls into halftime with a 38-33 lead.
- A Cunningham 3-pointer followed by a jumper gave the Spartans a 45-44 advantage with 13:50 remaining in the contest.
- Williams made the first of two free throws to even the score at 45 before layups by Malik Moore and Michael Buchanan gave the Spartans a 49-45 edge.
- Williams completed a 3-point play to tie the game at 51 with 9:07 to go. Upstate claimed the lead for good on its next possession thanks to a Moore 3-pointer.
- Masterson trimmed the Upstate advantage to three, 65-62, with 3:31 remaining. Whittington answered for the Spartans with a jumper following a media timeout to push the Upstate advantage back to five points.
- Upstate put the game away in the final minute by making nine of 10 free throw attempts as the Owls got no closer than four points.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Cunningham was 7-for-11 from the field and made a career-high six 3-pointers as he was 6-for-7 from behind the arc.
- Cunningham’s 22 points were two shy of tying his career-high.
- Cuthbertson and Whittington were each 5-for-6 at the free throw line.
- Whittington’s 19 points were the second-most he’s scored coming off the bench this season.
- Clarke dished out a game-high four assists.
- The Spartans held a 40-36 edge in rebounds with their reserves outscoring the Kennesaw State bench 26-23.
- Kennesaw State outshot Upstate 47.5 percent (28-for-59) to 45.9 percent (28-for-61).
- The score was tied three times while the lead changed hands four times.
- The Spartans face Lipscomb on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Hodge Center.