Spartanburg, S.C. (USC Upstate SID) – Mike Cunningham led the USC Upstate men’s basketball team offensively, tying his season-high of 26 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a strong second half by the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in an 88-71 loss on Homecoming Saturday afternoon from Eddie and Ann Payne Arena in the G.B. Hodge Center.
USC Upstate falls to 7-21 on the season and 2-9 in league play while Florida Gulf Coast improves to 20-8 overall and 11-0 in the conference.
A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
- Cunningham fell two points shy of tying his career scoring mark of 28 points after finishing the game shooting 8-of-16 from the field.
- Cunningham set a new career-high behind the 3-point line with a 7-for-13 mark.
- The Spartans had three players, led by Cunningham, finish the game in double-figures as Deion Holmes added 16 points and Ramel Thompkins 13.
- Holmes pulled down a team-high eight rebounds for USC Upstate while Malik Moore added seven and Thompkins six.
- Jure Span dished out a game-high seven assists.
- RaySean Scott Jr. had a team-leading 21 points for the Eagles and led five players in double-digits scoring along with Brandon Goodwin (19), Zach Johnson (14), Christian Terrell (14) and Antravious Simmons (11).
- Goodwin, Simmons and Scott Jr. all had six rebounds.
- Goodwin and Terrell both contributed six assists.
- The Spartans finished the game shooting 34.7 percent (25-of-72) and made 9-of-11 free throw attempts for an 81.8 percent mark.
- USC Upstate held a 41-40 advantage in rebounds and 13-5 in second chance points.
FIRST HALF BREAKDOWN
- The Spartans opened the game on an 11-0 run during the first 3:25 and took an 11-point advantage on a three-point play by Holmes.
- Florida Gulf Coast scored the following four points before USC Upstate answered with seven straight and held an 18-4 advantage at the 12:32 mark on a three-point play from Avery Diggs.
- The Spartans led by 10 or more points for a majority of the last 13 minutes of the first half with the Eagles trailing by single digits only once at 32-23 with 4:46 to go.
- USC Upstate took its largest lead of the game at 32-14 with 7:22 remaining when Cunningham connected on a 3-pointer.
- After FGCU cut the lead down to nine points with 4:46 left, the Spartans closed the half out on a 12-6 run with Cunningham recording six on back-to-back 3-pointers.
- Carson Smith knocked down a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left to send USC Upstate into halftime leading 44-29.
SECOND HALF BREAKDOWN
- The Eagles began the second half outscoring the Spartans 18-5 over the first 5:59 and cut the lead down to 49-46 at the 14:01 mark on a three-point play by Goodwin.
- Holmes answered the next series with a layup to put USC Upstate back in front 51-46 with 13:35 left.
- Florida Gulf Coast then went on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to go ahead 58-53 with 8:46 to go.
- The Spartans would get as close as three points the remainder of the half when Holmes connected on a layup the following possession to make the score 58-55.
- The Eagles scored the next seven points and later led 69-58 at the 6:09 mark on a dunk by Johnson.
- Florida Gulf Coast held an 11-point advantage twice during a stretch of almost two minutes with the last coming at 74-63 with 4:14 left.
- Cunningham made three free throws at the 4:07 mark to put USC Upstate back to within eight points at 74-66.
- The Eagles led by double-figures for the final 3:44 of the game.
- Terrell gave FGCU its largest lead of the contest on his layup with four seconds left to put the final score at 88-71.
- The Spartans play the final two road games of their regular season next week, Feb. 15-17, at North Florida and Jacksonville.
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