KENNESAW, Ga. The Kennesaw State women's basketball team had three players finish in double-figures scoring, but the effort came up short as the Owls fell in Atlantic Sun Conference action to USC Upstate, 61-52, at the KSU Convocation Center Monday night.
Kristina Wells (Douglasville, Ga./Douglas County HS) once again led the black and gold with a 14-point outing while freshman Chelsea Mason (Bellevue, Neb./Bellevue West HS) finished up with 12 and senior Ashley Holliday (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann Academy) chipped in 10.
The Owls, who fall to 4-15 overall and 0-7 in the A-Sun, once again held a lead late, overcoming a 32-27 halftime deficit to go up by one at the 15:31 mark of the second period with a Sametria Gideon (Madison, Ala./Bob Jones HS) layup to make it 36-35 KSU.
Holliday and Wells then went off for back-to-back jumpers to extend the Kennesaw State lead to five one minute later, capitalizing on a Chantel Kennedy (Brooklyn, N.Y./Colorado St.) defensive rebound and a Wells steal. Kennedy would add in a free throw as the Owls took their biggest lead of the game, 43-37, with 12:50 to go. But a 7-2 run from the Spartans (6-12, 2-5 A-Sun) over the next five minutes put Upstate back in the game at 45-45.
The Owls went back up briefly at 48-45 with a Mason three-pointer, but Upstate regained the advantage on a Tee'Ara Copney layup to go up for good, taking the 61-52 win.
"We played well in spurts," said Kennesaw State head coach Nitra Perry. "And that's really been the story of our last two or three games. We're getting closer, but we're just not over the hump yet. We were missing some layups and easy buckets and that hurts, especially when we're down. It really takes the energy out of us."
The two teams played a back-and-forth game in the first half with neither grabbing more than a four point lead in the first 15 minutes. The half saw eight ties and eight lead changes before Upstate went into the break holding the five-point edge.
"I was really glad to see Mason hit a couple of shots and Wells has been playing phenomenal basketball these last few games," added Perry. "She really wants it bad and she's been working hard. We're getting there, it's just a process."
The Owls, who came into the game averaging 20 points in the paint, put up 32 from under the basket against the Spartans, nine of those coming from the senior Gideon.
"We're trying to get the ball inside more," added Perry. "Gideon is trying to pound it in there and everyone knows she's our go-to post player, so we're trying to find other ways to go into the paint with driving layups and offensive boards to get it in there."
Kennedy led the Owls on the glass, coming away with a game-high nine rebounds of the 33 total for KSU. Gideon, Wells and Mason each finished up with six.
Holliday also added four assists and a pair of steals to her stat line while Wells came away with four steals, giving the guard 12 takeaways in her last three outings.
The black and gold will now hit the road for three straight, starting on Jan. 26, when the Owls head to Highland Heights, Ky., to take on A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky.
To keep up with the latest Kennesaw State women's basketball news follow the team on Twitter @KSUOwlNation and @KSUOwlsWBB or by liking Kennesaw State University on Facebook.
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