USC Upstate Falls to Winthrop
By: Aaron J. Pellot
Upstate fell to the Winthrop Eagles on November 13, 2013, in a game they were mostly control of throughout the night. After winning their debut game against Virginia Tech, accomplishing the first win over an ACC opponent, the Spartans took the trip to Rock Hill to seek their first 2-0 start since the 2005-2006 season.
As soon as the game started, it was clear to see the confidence Upstate was carrying into the gym. Guard Mario Blessing found Craig on two early plays, giving the team an early lead. In the same instance, it was easy to see how the officials were going to call the game. With early fouls coming for Ricardo Glenn, the sense in the building was the game was not only going to be called tightly, but maybe too tightly, as multiple small hand-check calls were made.
Confidence brewed for the Spartans as they were shooting over 55% from the field throughout the first half. It was easy to see forward Torrey Craig was finding a flow, taking step back jumpers and driving the lane smoothly on multiple occasions. Later in the first half, Ty Greene would catch on as well, shooting 5-6 from the field. In the opposite sense, Winthrop, a team that finds its identity from behind the arc, struggled all through the first half. Not only were the Eagles shooting 40% from the field, but they shot an abysmal 33.3% from three-point land, which wouldn’t be bad, if it wasn’t for Upstate shooting 6-10, from behind the arc in the first half.
While the eye test would have shown Upstate was in complete control through the first half, the score board was all knotted up at 39. Looking at the stats for the half showed how Winthrop was able to stay in the game, as they reached the line 13 times, hitting 11, in comparison to Upstate only reaching the line four times, hitting three.
The second half was a completely different story for the Spartans, as the offense looked stagnant at times, and the rhythm that was seen in the first dissipated. The only thing that remained consistent for the Spartans were the calls from the officials. Upstate seemingly could not catch a break, as they continued to rack up fouls, though many seemed a bit questionable, even from some of the Winthrop crowd. While Upstate seemingly looked lost on offense, the Eagles began to finally find their style, and began shooting comfortable from three. As the lead expanded to 14, in Winthrop’s favor, the crowd which rode from Upstate sat quietly, as Winthrop’s student section roared.
With the game looking over in the middle of the second half, one thing noticeable was the hunger seen on the face of Torrey Craig. Craig, who led all scorers throughout the game, turned on a switch, capturing not only the attention of the crowd, but his teammates as well. The team was able to shrink the Winthrop lead from 14 to three, with two minutes left, as Craig hit a clutch three-point shot. Craig finished the game with 31 points and 9 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for a Spartan comeback, as the final score read 82-74 in favor of Winthrop. The Spartans will have to gather themselves from this loss quickly, as they have the Tennessee Volunteers (0-1) on Saturday November 16th , who will be hungry to earn their first win.