Spartanburg Sports Report

Upstate loses heartbreaker in A-Sun Quarterfinals

Trailing by two with less than 10 seconds left in regulation, USC Upstate (17-15) pushed the ball up the court with a chance to tie or win the game. The Spartans got a great look at the basket.

But the shot was just off the mark.

When the dust settled, the USC-Upstate Spartans fell to the Kennesaw State Owls 80-78 in the first round of the Atlantic Sun tournament.

On the final play, Deion Holmes got the ball on the left wing, looked to the post, and found Upstate senior center Michael Buchanan, who got a great look at the basket amid pressure from a Kennesaw State defender.

“I saw ‘Big Mike’ in the post and I gave (the ball) to him,” Holmes said. “My first decision was to get to the rim, but once I saw him, I was confident in him to make the shot.”

“We had an opportunity,” Buchanan added. “Deion threw me a good pass – I just wasn’t able to finish.”

With less than four and a half minutes to play, Upstate tied the game at 72 courtesy of a 9-3 scoring run.  Holmes, a Chesnee native, drained a three-pointer from the right corner during that stretch to help the Spartans at a crucial point of the contest. He finished the game with 15 points.

“Deion played well,” Upstate head coach Eddie Payne stated. “He’s always better when he’s patient. I thought he was more patient tonight and did a good job with that… he’s beginning to develop get a better feel for that aspect (of the game).”

Buchanan, an A-Sun first team all-conference selection, was held in check by Kennesaw State until just past the midway point of the second half. He finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds on the night for Upstate.

“He has made a tremendous amount of progress,” Payne pointed out. “He’s matured a great deal (while at Upstate). He’s a success story, based on where he’s came from… when you see that, you take a great deal of pride in that young man. I really glad to see him finish things out like he has.”

Also for Upstate, Mike Cunningham chipped in a team-high 18 points. Kendrick Ray led Kennesaw State with a game-high 24 points, followed by Nick Masterson with 18.

Kennesaw State advances to the semifinals, where they will travel to face top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday, March 2nd.

USC-Upstate will await word on a possible postseason tournament appearance.