Even with Jami Cornwell out and Julie Szabo having a lackluster performance, USC Aiken's women's basketball team was victorious.
Former Lady Jaguar Katie Lawrence scored a season-high 21 points as the No. 22 Lady Pacers blew past Augusta State, 72-57, at the ASU athletic complex Saturday night.
"Being off for two years kind of hurt me getting back into the swing of things," Lawrence said. "Tonight, I just put it all together."
Lawrence, who played at Augusta State for two years before transferring to USC Aiken, entered the game averaging 5.9 points per contest with a season-high 17 points in a game. The junior improved on those numbers Saturday, making seven of nine shots, including three key 3-pointers, and had a team-high six rebounds.
USC Aiken (22-4, 16-3), the reigning Peach Belt Conference regular-season champion, had five players score in double digits. Szabo, the team's leading scorer, went 3-of-12 for 13 points. Allison Nold had 11 points, and Mary Wooley and Jen Kennedy each scored 10.
Cornwell, the team's starting point guard, has missed the past three game with mononucleosis. Katie Rokus started in her place and had five points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
"This game gave Katie Rokus a lot of confidence," USC Aiken coach Phil Stern said. "We made that run late in the first half without Julie really scoring, which gives everyone confidence."
For 16 minutes, Augusta State (10-16, 5-14) played the Lady Pacers as well as it could, limiting the back-door cuts and holding Szabo in check. But USC Aiken dominated from there.
Lawrence drilled a 3-pointer. Ray hit a layup. After two Szabo free throws, Ray made another layup. The Lady Pacers turned a one-point deficit into a 33-22 lead.
USC Aiken went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of the half, ending the half on a 20-4 run for a 41-26 halftime lead.
"Aiken makes shots, we don't make shots," Augusta State coach Greg Wilson said. "I was disappointed in that run, because nobody stepped up to try and stop it."