WJTV News Channel 12 - Hokies Fall to USC Upstate

Hokies Fall to USC Upstate

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HANK KURZ Jr.

AP Sports Writer

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - If Florida Gulf Coast can do it, why not us?

 

That's what USC Upstate coach Eddie Payne wants his team thinking after the Spartans beat Virginia Tech 64-63 in the season opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon.

 

The victory was the first for any team in the Atlantic Sun Conference after seeing league champion FGCU become the first No. 15 seed to reach the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament last year.

 

"That's a big thing," Payne said of winning on the home court of an Atlantic Coast Conference team. "It gives our youngsters confidence. I think Florida Gulf Coast's run in the tournament last year gave them a picture of what can be."

 

The Spartans made it happen with torrid second-half shooting from Ty Greene and two huge plays by Babatunde Olumuyiwa.

 

Olumuyiwa made a layup with 1:52 to play to break a 62-all tie and blocked Jarell Eddie's shot in the lane after the Hokies hustled down court.

 

Greene scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime.

 

Hokies freshman Devin Jones tracked down the loose ball and tried to feed Cadarian Raines down low, but the ball glanced off Raines' hand.

 

"Him coming off the bench and giving us that lift," Payne said, "... These are the types of things you've got to do to win a game."

 

The Hokies lost their season opener for the first time since 2002.

 

"We tried to make a good, quick basket," Eddie said of the final sequence. "The guy blocked my shot. Devin got the ball. He thought he had a good look down low, and we didn't complete the play."

 

The Spartans, who also got 13 points from Torrey Craig, won for the first time in eight games against a school from the ACC.

 

Raines scored a career-high 17 points for the Hokies, all in the second half, and Eddie finished with 18, but had just three after halftime. He had a chance to tie it when he was fouled with 1:29 to go, but the normally reliable free throw shooter's first attempt came up short before he made the second.

 

The game was tied eight times in the second half before Olumuyiwa's basket made it 64-62.

 

The Hokies frontcourt did little in the first half, but Raines got assertive after halftime, scoring nine of their first 15 points. The other six came on 3-pointers by Marshall Wood and Adam Smith as the Hokies worked to answer an early flurry by Greene, who scored eight in the first 3:20 of the half.

 

The Hokies led 15-9 until Ricardo Glenn sparked an 11-2 burst for the Spartans. He made two free throws and a basket inside. After Adam Smith's layup for the Hokies, Babatunde Olumuyiwa converted a three-point play, Craig hit a 12-footer and Mario Blessing's fast-break layup gave Upstate a 20-17 advantage.

 

The game marked the Hokies' debut of Ben Emelogu, whom coach James Johnson named a captain before he ever took the floor, and Emelogu made 3-pointers on his first two shots before airballing one later. Emelogu played just 12 minutes, drawing four fouls, and finished with six points.

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