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SPARTANBURG – The challenge for Presbyterian entering Sunday’s second women’s basketball game at USC Upstate is a familiar one.

What do the Blue Hose do for an encore to Saturday’s 60-50 victory over the Spartans?

This is PC’s fourth Big South Series. In all four, the Blue Hose have won the first game. In the first three, they lost the second.

“We have to play the hand we’re dealt,” head coach Alaura Sharp said. “Our bench players have to execute. It comes down to grit. … We need to do a better job.”

On Saturday at Hodge Center, Presbyterian (5-4, 4-3 Big South) got off to a slow start, but Trinity Johnson, with a season-high 18 points, and Tionna Carter, who added 16, led a team that got better as the game progressed.

Sharp noted that the Blue Hose have gotten to the free-throw line at least 20 times in the games they’ve won.

“I thought we were shying away from contact, trying to get fouled in the first half,” she said. “It was a slow start for both teams.”

On a day marked by poor shooting – PC shot 33.3 percent – defense was the key. PC forced 27 turnovers and made 15 steals, roughly twice as many as USCU (3-9, 1-6) in both categories.

Tess Santos and Johnson each dished out 4 assists.

The Spartans led by two points after both a quarter (11-9) and a half (19-17).

PC never took the lead in the third quarter until the 5:59 mark but led by as many as five and were three ahead (38-35) entering the final 10 minutes.

A 9-0 run secured the win. The Blue Hose led 52-39 with 4:22 to go, and Upstate never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Jade Compton chipped in 12 points for PC. Molly Coleman led USC Upstate with 12 points, while Denijsha Wilson netted 11. McKinley Brooks-Sumpter recorded a game-high nine rebounds for the Spartans.

The turnover margin (27-14) led to an 18-8 PC advantage in points scored off of turnovers. Presbyterian also enjoyed a 32-24 edge in points in the paint.

The teams meet again in Spartanburg on Sunday at 2 p.m.