AIKEN — The USC Aiken Lady Pacers struggled with turnovers and creating shots in the first half. An improved second half was enough to survive an upset bid and enter the school’s record books.
USC Aiken moved to 9-0 for the first time in the history of the women’s program with a 63-59 win over Anderson on Wednesday at the convocation center.
Anderson (7-4) implemented a full-court press and zone defense, slowing USC Aiken’s quick-tempo offense.
The result was a deficit as large as 10 for the No. 3 Lady Pacers in the first half, as USC Aiken shot just 39 percent and committed 14 turnovers.
Down by 6 at the half, USC Aiken came out of the locker room with more energy, beating the press and committing fewer turnovers.
The offense also drove to the basket more, resulting in a 12 for 27 mark in the half.
“We did a better job breaking the press in the second half,” coach Mike Brandt said. “We found our comfort level and found a flow offensively.”
Despite a stronger second half, the Lady Trojans stayed within six and pulled within one with less than 2 minutes remaining. But a Daniela Tarailo 3-pointer with 1:32 left put the Lady Pacers ahead 61-57, a deficit Anderson was unable to recover from.
“It’s my job to shoot and score, and I’m glad I hit it,” Tarailo said. “The press slowed us down, but we were able to counter that.”
The Lady Pacers were led by Tarailo’s 21 points, including four 3-pointers. She also tied for the team high with five rebounds.
Preseason All-American Kayla Harris added 14 points for the Lady Pacers and Mia Antoine recorded 12.
Anderson was led by Alissa Diaz, who recorded 16 points on 5 of 12 shooting. Breonda Shannon added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Trojans, who shot 50 percent for the game.
The Lady Trojans had two more field goals than USC Aiken but nine fewer free throws made.