AIKEN - With NCAA Division II leading scorer Jaymee Carnes on the bench and wearing a protective boot, her North Georgia teammates had no answer for 11th-ranked USC Aiken in a 68-42 Lady Pacers victory Saturday night.
Carnes and her 25.5 points per game weren’t the only weapons unavailable to the Lady Saints, who dressed just seven players for the Peach Belt Conference game.
USC Aiken’s full aresnal was led by senior Hannah DeGraffinreed, who scored 14 points in 15 minutes on 7 of 9 shooting.
“That’s more of the Hannah that we like to see,” head coach Mike Brandt said.
The win came in response to USC Aiken’s first conference loss of the season in a road defeat at UNC Pembroke on Wednesday that snapped the Lady Pacers’ school-record 12-game winning streak. DeGraffinreed struggled offensively in the upset loss but bounced back Saturday night and was rewarded with a well-earned, extended rest in the second half.
“That was definitely the response we wanted,” she said. “We wanted to jump out on them and get back to Pacer basketball.”
DeGraffinreed scored six of the game’s first nine points to help the Lady Pacers (14-2, 7-1) build an early 8-1 lead. The home team’s full-court press and emphasis to push the ball up the floor offensively elevated the pace of the game to a level the understaffed Lady Saints (9-7, 3-4) failed to match.
After a 20-point halftime lead, Brandt turned to his bench and got quality efforts from Mackenzie Reese, who scored 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Tiffani Moody, who led the team with seven rebounds.
Even though the lead ballooned 37 points midway through the second half, Brandt didn’t waste the outing, using the time to assess his second- and third-string units.
North Georgia went on a 12-2 run later in the half to cut into the lead, but the Lady Pacers’ win was never seriously challenged.
“It was great to be able to play a lot of the substitutes,” Brandt said. “I was pretty hard on them the last eight minutes. They played most of the time, and this was probably one of my longer (postgame) locker room talks this year. We expect a lot from them and we expect them to come in and do what they’re supposed to do and follow the scouting report and play the way we’re supposed to play defensively. Some of them didn’t do it, so you’ve got to let them know right away.”
Jessica Trice led North Georgia with 13 points. Stephanie Huffman added 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.