Lady Pacers suffer letdown in title game

GEORGIA COLLEGE 62, NO. 12 USC AIKEN 49

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AIKEN --- One day after her team upset the No. 1 team in the country, USC Aiken forward Deandra Schirmer said the Lady Pacers thought they had won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.

USC Aiken's Hannah DeGraffinreed (right) fights for position against Georgia College. The Lady Pacers dropped to 0-3 in Peach Belt Tournament finals. 
  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
USC Aiken's Hannah DeGraffinreed (right) fights for position against Georgia College. The Lady Pacers dropped to 0-3 in Peach Belt Tournament finals.

The problem? USC Aiken still had another game to play.

The No. 12 Lady Pacers came out flat Sunday and couldn't overcome Chimere Jordan's game-high 26 points as Georgia College closed out the Lady Pacers, 62-49, in the league championship game.

"Big letdown," Schirmer said.

"Georgia College wanted it," USC Aiken coach Mike Brandt said. "We didn't quite fight like we have in past games."

USC Aiken fell to 0-3 in Peach Belt title game appearances, two of those defeats coming on its home floor.

The Lady Pacers (26-5) still qualified for the Division II Tournament, locking up an at-large bid.

"It's a tough one to lose," Brandt said. "But the good thing about it is we live to play another game.

"This may be the best thing to ever happen to us."

Georgia College (22-6) grabbed the league's automatic bid into the Southeast Regional, winning the title in coach Maurice Smith's first season. The Lady Bobcats shot just 35 percent from the floor, but they grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and scored 20 points off turnovers.

USC Aiken overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and took a 47-45 lead on a Kayla Harris 17-foot jumper. With the game tied at 47, Georgia College began pounding the glass. Jessica Baker found Jordan, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, cutting to the hoop for a layup. Then, Dominique Huffin drove twice around Hannah DeGraffinreed for a pair of easy layups. With 1:07 left, Georgia College led by six.

USC Aiken made just one field goal the final three minutes, allowing the Lady Bobcats to pull away.

After defeating Clayton State on Saturday, USC Aiken made just one field goal the first 12 minutes of Sunday's contest. Georgia College took advantage, jumping out to a 17-4 lead. The Lady Pacers shot 4 for 19 in the first half, trailed by eight at halftime and finished shooting 33 percent from the floor.

"I know that's what a lot of people would think," Brandt said about his team's letdown following Saturday's victory.

"They all wanted to win the championship. ... I think Georgia College came out and played good defense against us."

Harris led USC Aiken with 11 points. DeGraffinreed scored 10.


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