Lady Pacers remove burden with victory

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AIKEN - After USC Aiken's 69-62 win over Augusta State, Lady Pacers coach Mike Brandt joked about a monkey running around the office.

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Augusta State's Deo Ngulela, left, tries to slow the progress of USC Aiken's Mindy Allee during the Lady Pacers' 69-62 victory in Aiken Saturday.  USC Aiken had lost six of its past seven games to ASU.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta State's Deo Ngulela, left, tries to slow the progress of USC Aiken's Mindy Allee during the Lady Pacers' 69-62 victory in Aiken Saturday. USC Aiken had lost six of its past seven games to ASU.

Not anymore.

Meredith Legg scored 17, Jordon Thomas added 15 and USC Aiken extended its winning streak to six Saturday night at The Courthouse.

"They've really had our number," Legg said. "This is a really good win for us."

USC Aiken entered with six losses in its past seven games to Augusta State, including a 10-point loss to its rival in a non-conference matchup last month. Since the teams are in separate divisions, that game didn't count toward the Peach Belt Conference standings. This one did.

The Lady Pacers improved to 10-3 overall and stand atop the North Division with a 2-0 record. USC Aiken is one win away from matching last season's win total.

"I think the school, the athletic director, really likes to beat Augusta State," said Brandt, who improved to 3-8 against the Lady Jaguars. "I probably feel more pressure with this game than any other game there is."

USC Aiken entered with one of the league's top defenses and didn't disappoint. Despite taking 22 more shots than USC Aiken, Augusta State (8-4, 0-2) shot just 31 percent from the floor.

Shirrell Ford was the lone Lady Jaguar to crack double figures scoring with a season-high 17.

In the first half, USC Aiken jumped out to a 23-11 lead on a Kendra Chandler lay-in with 9:05 remaining. The Lady Pacers scored just one field goal the rest of the half.

Augusta State used a 20-3 run to get back in the game. Brittany Jarrard drained a pair of 3-pointers, and Nicole Mealing added another trey to key the spurt. Deo Ngulela popped two free throws to give the Lady Jaguars a 31-26 lead.

Augusta State, which had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, went into intermission with a two-point lead.

Brandt talked to his team at halftime about hitting the boards.

"He pretty much said if we own the boards we win the game," Thomas said.

Augusta State ended up winning the rebounding battle, 43-35. The Lady Jaguars also recorded a season-low 10 turnovers.

It didn't matter. USC Aiken shot 51 percent from the field, including a 5-for-9 performance from the perimeter.

Legg snapped a 33-all tie with an open 3-pointer from the left corner. The basket started a 16-5 run the Lady Pacers used to open up a close game. Thomas made two foul shots to give USC Aiken a 49-38 lead with 11:35 remaining.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com


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