DURHAM, N.C. (AP)—South Carolina-Upstate has visited two teams each from the ACC and SEC in its first season as a full member of NCAA Division I and hasn’t been close in any of the games.
So it was no surprise that the Spartans couldn’t hang with No. 6 Duke in a 93-35 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
And while coach Tammy George said she was proud of her team’s effort against the Blue Devils, she said she’s happy the rest of the schedule for the Spartans (1-8) is either against fellow Atlantic Sun Conference opposition—or at least someone on a similar level.
“It’s good exposure for our program,” George said. “We go out and see what other schools are like—big-time programs—and good for recruiting. It’s been a tough schedule with Duke, (North) Carolina, Vanderbilt and Auburn. It just makes us better and I think we’ll be ready to go around the time conference season rolls around.”
Freshman Elizabeth Williams had a season-high 22 points on 10-for-10 shooting, and grabbed nine rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Haley Peters tied her career-high with 17 points for Duke (7-2), which was coming off a 72-65 loss at No. 10 Kentucky on Thursday night. Chloe Wells chipped in 11 points with a career-high seven steals while reserve Kathleen Scheer had 10 points.
“We’re working on getting better out there,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We’re looking to grow our team and we used a lot of combinations and defenses. Haley was solid and strong and aggressive and focused. And the same is true for Elizabeth. She was efficient and did what she could do when she could do it.”
Tee’Ara Copney led the Spartans (1-8) with eight points, all in the first half.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, I think that’s a good thing about our team,” Copney said. “We just come out and play, and play with confidence and play hard no matter the circumstances. (But) they had a lot of shooters, and their guards are bigger than our post players.”
USC-Upstate is in its first season of full Division I membership after transitioning from Division II.
“I felt like we played pretty well in the first half, but in the second half the bottom kind of fell out and they blew it open pretty big,” George said. “I’m proud of my kids—they played hard for the most part and didn’t quit.”
The Spartans were competitive in the opening minutes, trailing 5-4 on a jumper by Briana Robinson with 17:56 left in the half. But the Blue Devils responded with a 9-0 run—six points from Williams—to take control.
“I worked out a bunch this summer, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing,” said Williams, who had the most field goals without a miss for Duke except for Sheana Mosch’s 12-for-12 performance in a 92-42 win over Clemson on Jan. 28, 2001. “I think we’ve grown into that a little bit as we’ve gone on. I just make sure I keep rebounding.”
Duke shot 59.7 percent from the field to USC-Upstate’s 25.5, won the rebound battle 41-21 and committed 18 turnovers to the visitors’ 32.
“`E’ has done a great job,” Peters said of Williams. “She’s grown in terms of her mental pace, I think. She’s not going to get rushed, and you can see it on the court. The more that starts to show, the better she’s going to be.”