AIKEN - USC Aiken's remarkable turnaround continues.
Behind Chris Robinson's 20 points, the Pacers held off a 3-point barrage from UNC Pembroke to beat the Braves 82-70 at The Courthouse on Saturday in Peach Belt Conference play.
The Lady Pacers opened Homecoming with strong showings from the sophomore duo of Julie Szabo and Jami Cornwell as USC Aiken cruised past the Lady Braves 64-46.
"After the loss Wednesday, we still thought we were a good team," Pacers coach Mike Roberts said. "We're (in) first and we had to come back and reorganize against Pembroke."
The win pushed USC Aiken (14-6, 8-2) one game ahead of Augusta State in the North Division standings.. Also , the Pacers surpassed last season's win total (13).
The game featured seven players reaching double-digits, led by Braves freshman guard Melvin Farrington. He hit 7-of-15 from behind the arc and had a game-high 25 points. Adrian Prioleau had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Jay Bruer also had 15 points.
USC Aiken was paced by Robinson, who also had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Areon Atkinson, who has played sparingly since he was injured on Jan. 20 against Francis Marion, scored 15 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
"I challenged Chris. He is a senior and he played like a senior," Roberts said. "We feel that there is something on the line every time we go out there because we are playing for a championship."
At the start of the second half, USC Aiken started to pull away from UNC Pembroke after Atkinson hit consecutive 3s to build the lead to 59-41.
But after a Benjamin Lucas three, Farrington hit three 3-pointers to pull the Braves back to within 65-56. However, with time winding down, UNC Pembroke was forced to foul and USC Aiken answered the call, hitting 12-of-15 free throws in the remaining 3:35 to ice the victory.
USC Aiken remain undefeated at home this season (9-0).
In the women's game, coach Phil Stern's Lady Pacers (15-5, 9-1) continued their impressive defensive run against UNC Pembroke (10-9, 2-7).
USC Aiken maintained its North Division lead with a strong second half. The Lady Pacers improved to 15-2 when leading at the half while winning their third in a row and ninth in the past 10.
"We were ready to go," Stern said. "The first half was a little sluggish, but we executed well in the second half and we ran our offense well."
Along with Szabo's 17 points and Cornwell's 14, senior Dana Richter chipped in with nine points on three 3-pointers.
The Lady Pacers played their typical defense.
Ginnell Curtis, who leads conference in scoring with 21.7 points per game, managed only 12. Junior center Jennifer Lance finished with 16, all in the first half.
USC Aiken's defense has allowed an average of 48.2 points during the past 10 games, while the Lady Pacers have been averaging 61.9.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.
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