AIKEN — It took a portion of the season, but USC Aiken women’s coach Mike Brandt said the Pacers are getting back to playing their brand of basketball.
That brand was solidified in another rivalry meeting by a 49-46 win over Georgia Regents on Saturday night at the convocation center.
The Pacer women (6-14, 4-7 Peach Belt Conference) withstood a tight battle late by playing strong defense and making shots when they needed them most.
“The team is coming around and learning Pacer basketball,” Brandt said. “That means playing good defense. We emphasize the defense.”
USC Aiken’s largest lead in the game was only five, but one of it’s leads came at the opportune time when Courtney Mealing made a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining, giving the Pacers a 47-44 advantage.
The Jaguars fought back to within one, but two free throws by Mariah Durian gave the Pacers another three-point lead. Georgia Regents had one more chance to tie in the final seconds but failed to get off a shot.
“We need to understand it’s going to be a back-and-forth battle,” Georgia Regents coach Nate Teymer said. “It’s going to come down to the end. At the end, they made the play to win it.”
The Pacers didn’t have a scorer in double figures, but Mealing, Durian and Amaura Brandt each had nine points. Porsha Martin added six points and nine rebounds.
“Credit GRU for that,” Brandt said. “They stopped us pretty well under the basket and made it difficult on shooters.”
Georgia Regents (9-9, 5-6) jumped to a 12-2 lead early and maintained a lead of around 10 until midway through the first half.
USC Aiken began a comeback around the 7-minute mark, and four minutes later, the Pacers reached a tie at 20.
USC Aiken held a 27-25 lead at the break.
The score stayed within five points throughout the second half.
Marissa Mandeldove led Georgia Regents with 12 points. Kelsey Fynaardt added six points and 11 rebounds.