They're not exactly chanting "We're No. 37" on the USC Aiken campus. But the Lady Pacers are moving at a tortoise pace up the national rankings.
In the latest USA Today/Women's Basketball Coaches of America poll released Wednesday, the Lady Pacers (12-4, 6-0) received eight votes good for the No. 37 ranking in the country.
However, Phil Stern's USC Aiken team is ranked just seventh in the South Atlantic Region. But look for a bit of a shake-up in next week's region rankings because Georgia College & State (No. 4 in region) lost Wednesday and No. 1 Columbus State plays No. 3 Kennesaw State on Saturday.
Should the Lady Pacers defeat Francis Marion at home Saturday at 5:30 p.m., they would have a solid three-game lead in the Peach Belt Conference North Division with nine games remaining. It's very possible USC Aiken could run the table up to its road matchup against Columbus State on Feb. 17.
Festus Hawkins, Augusta State's 6-foot-11, 270-pound center, didn't play spectacular in the Jaguars' 53-51 loss at USC Aiken on Wednesday.
Despite leading the Jags with 21 points, Hawkins had just five rebounds and five turnovers.
All that aside, USC Aiken coach Mike Roberts is not looking forward to seeing Hawkins again in the Pacer-Jaguar game Jan. 31.
"That cat's a load. There's just nothing like him in this league," Roberts said.
PEACH BELT JINX?
After being named PBC Player of the Week on Monday, Gary Boodnikoff has scored a total of 17 points in losses to Paine and USC Aiken.
HOUSE, SWEET COURTHOUSE:
With the win over Augusta State, the Pacers extended their home winning streak to seven games. The streak is the longest in the Peach Belt.
"I'm very pleased with our team because they have a goal not to get beat at home," Roberts said. "They maintained that goal, and I think they did it against a very good team."
Paine's Yari Scott has played remarkably well the past three games.
The Lions guard is averaging 26 points over his past three games, and he nailed a pair of big 3-pointers in Paine's 68-58 win over Augusta State on Monday. On Wednesday, Scott scored 28 points in a 79-76 loss at Clark Atlanta.
After playing seven games in a 14-day span, Augusta State gets a break in its schedule. The Jaguars play just three games in the next 10 days and have six of its next eight games at home.
Augusta State received its highest region ranking since joining the PBC when the Jaguars reached No. 4 in the South Atlantic Region poll on Wednesday.
However, the poll was complete before Augusta's losses to Paine and USC Aiken.
Meanwhile, USC Aiken checked in at No. 10 in the region. With a win over Francis Marion on Saturday, the Pacers should move up a couple of notches.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
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