Spartanburg, S.C. - Sophomore forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) scored 14 points to lead three Hatters in double figures, but it was not enough as the Stetson women's basketball team (21-9, 12-6 Atlantic Sun) dropped its regular season finale at USC Upstate (9-20, 8-10 A-Sun) by an 81-68 score. Stetson clinched the #2 seed in the upcoming A-Sun tournament prior to tip-off when Belmont lost on the road to Mercer.
Stetson will play seventh-seeded USC Upstate again in the A-Sun quarterfinals at 6:00 pm Wednesday in Macon, Georgia. The Hatters captured the 2011 A-Sun tournament championship from the same #2 seed position.
Stetson started off well and led by as many as nine points with 9:30 to go in the first half, but the Spartans would chip that advantage down to three before a quick spurt powered by junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) restored a seven-point Hatter lead with 4:22 left in the first period. USC Upstate would end the half on a 7-0 run, however, to send the game to halftime tied 28-28.
Three-pointers from junior guards Shanasa Sanders (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Ashley Dennis (Bexley, Ohio) gave Stetson a pair of slim early second half leads before a personal and technical foul on the Hatters at the same juncture allowed the Spartans to sink four free throws on the same possession. Those points started a 9-0 Upstate run that put the home team ahead for good. The Spartans pressed their advantage to as many as 16 points and ended up taking the 13-point victory.
McGowan finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists while freshman forward Jazmin Garcia (Peekskill, N.Y.) scored 11 points of her own to join Sims in double figures for the Hatters. McGowan hit her 100th career three-pointer in today's contest, making her the fourth player in program history to reach that milestone; she also tied Kristy Brown (2003-04) for fifth on the program's single-season scoring list at 495 points in 2011-12.
Tee'Ara Copney led all scorers with 22 points for USC Upstate, which also got a big 16-point, 22-rebound effort from Paulina Zaveckaite as well as 15 points from Breanna Robinson and 10 from Hannah Ohl.
Wednesday's A-Sun quarterfinal re-match with USC Upstate can be seen nationally online at ESPN3.com. Should the Hatters advance, they would take on either third-seeded Belmont or sixth-seeded Jacksonville at 2:30 pm Friday in the semifinals on CSS. The championship game is set for 12:00 pm Saturday on CSS.
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