Lady Pacers seek elusive win in finals

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COLUMBUS, Ga. — USC Aiken coach Mike Brandt is hoping the fourth time is the charm for his Lady Pacers’ team.

USC Aiken methodically took apart UNC Pembroke 54-41 on Saturday in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals.

The ninth-ranked Lady Pacers (25-3) earned their third berth in the PBC finals in the past four years and fourth overall.

The previous three have all resulted in losses: 62-49 to Georgia College last season, 64-53 to Lander in 2009 and 56-38 to Columbus State in 2001.

Ending that futility will not be easy, however. Aiken faces No. 3 Clayton State today.

“On paper, this is what should have happened,” said Brandt, who was the coach for the 2009 and 2011 losses. “There is a lot on the line, not only the conference title, but the right to host the regional.”

USC Aiken ended Pembroke’s season by holding the Lady Braves to just 34 percent shooting from the field (16 of 47).

“We struggled to score,” Pembroke coach John Haskins said. “Aiken is a very good defensive team. We had trouble getting the ball into the post or attacking off the dribble.”

“Our defense has been tough all year, and that has kind of been our trademark. We work hard on defense,” Brandt said. “We were able to switch everything when we were in our person-to-person defense, and I think that is hard to go against.”

Hannah DeGraffinreed led the Lady Pacers with 20 points.

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