Hot half extends club's run

AIKEN --- Deandra Schirmer's drive to the basket was interrupted when she bounced off a couple of Flagler defenders in the second half of USC Aiken's 66-51 victory Wednesday night.


The junior forward ended up completely out of the paint and put up an off-balance heave that somehow found the front of the rim and rolled in.

"Coach always yells at me for getting in the air and making a bad pass," Schirmer said. "I got in the air, and I was looking to pass it to (Catherine Cain) on the low block. Instead, she was covered, so I was like, 'Well, I better throw this up there.' "

Schirmer whirled around with a guilty smile as the shot rolled in. It was that kind of night for the Lady Pacers, who shot 60.7 percent from the field in the second half en route to their largest win since Nov. 20.

Combined with a pair of road wins, including an overtime victory at Clayton State last week, USC Aiken has won a season-high three in a row.

The Lady Pacers improved to 4-5 in Peach Belt Conference play, and their postgame smiles hinted that the stretch of five losses in six games at the beginning of the month was forgotten.

"We're getting the feel for each other, and we're starting to win games like we should have been a long time ago," Schirmer said. "The morale is way different."

USC Aiken's recent surge has been sparked by starter Hannah Degraffinreed. The sophomore forward hit 7 of 9 shots from the field for a game-high 16 points, and Lady Pacers coach Mike Brandt said she's been more than just a scoring threat.

"Now I think she has more confidence, and she's playing much harder like she was early in the year, too," he said. "When she plays hard like that and runs the floor, then I just think everybody gets fired up and works that much harder."

Kendra Chandler added 13 points for the Lady Pacers, while Adrienne Donelson led Flagler with 12.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or