Originally created 01/07/01

USC Aiken sweeps rival



AIKEN - USC Aiken senior guard Dana Richter had experienced the Lady Pacers' drought against Kennesaw State more than most of her teammates.

So it's no wonder she felt just a bit more gratified after USC Aiken upset the 12th ranked team in Division II, 68-57, Saturday night in Peach Belt Conference action.

The Lady Owls were the owners of a nine-game winning streak over the Lady Pacers heading into Saturday's matchup.

"It means more to me because I have had losing records since I came here," said Richter, a defensive specialist. "This is a big game to win. Teams are coming into our gym knowing they have to put their best foot up to beat us. It feels really good."

USC Aiken (9-4, 3-0 Peach Belt North Division), led 34-26 at the half after shooting 52 percent from the floor. The Lady Pacers led by as many as 13 points on three occasions in the second half.

After going up 61-48 with 4:51 to play on a Julie Szabo driving layup, Kennesaw State went on a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to eight points 2:55 left.

USC Aiken quickly stormed back. Jami Cornwell followed her own miss for a put-back, and Cortney Ray adding a layup to push the lead to 12 points.

Ray led the Lady Pacers with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Szabo had 15 and Cornwell 12.

"We have such an unselfish team," Ray said. "We knew I was going to get a lot touches (Saturday). Other nights, it might be somebody else and my defense is all we'll need. We're playing as a team. To beat the No. 12 team in the country is awesome, but we've got to start thinking about the next game."

In the men's game, USC Aiken again used its defense to stifle an opponent down the stretch.

Behind a balanced attack on offense, the Pacers (8-4, 3-0 Peach Belt North) knocked off Kennesaw State 63-49.

Dain Brown led the Pacers with 12 points, Areon Atkinson added 11 and Eric Dugans chipped in 10 for Aiken, which won despite shooting only 35 percent from the floor.

USC Aiken's shooting woes didn't matter, considering the Pacers held the Owls to a woeful 26.9 percent shooting performance.

"It didn't look good, but a conference win is a conference win," USC Aiken coach Mike Roberts said. "We've still got some goals that are there for us to get. I'm proud of the way our kids kept their poise. The intensity has picked up and we're playing with the confidence that we're going to win."

The Pacers led by as many 20 points in the second half after going on a 10-0 run to ice the game.

Michael Tyler scored on a breakaway dunk then followed with a 3-pointer on the Pacers next possession to push the lead to 56-36 with 7:21 to play.

Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.