AIKEN — There were times when it was clear the USC Aiken women were playing their fifth game in 10 days. Then there were times when the fastbreak opportunity popped up.
Despite the tired legs, the 11th-ranked Lady Pacers managed to keep up their fast-paced play and outrun Georgia Southwestern to a 65-42
Peach Belt Conference win Saturday night at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
Coach Mike Brandt used his reserves to rest his starters early – 10 Lady Pacers played at least 10 minutes – and the backups proved just as effective in USC Aiken’s eighth win in nine conference games.
“I was pretty happy with the endurance,” Brandt said.“That’s one of the reasons I’ve subbed early in the last couple of games, to keep them as fresh as possible.”
Hannah DeGraffinreed established an inside game early and scored seven of USC Aiken’s first nine points. The senior forward finished with a game-high 14 points and six rebounds.
Georgia Southwestern (11-5, 3-4) tied the game eight minutes in on a 3-pointer from Jessica Jones. USC Aiken (15-2, 8-1) got a bucket from Kayla Harris on the next possession, and Mia Antoine followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The Lady Hurricanes never threatened again.
“Coach was trying to get the whole bench in so we’d all be fresh,” Antione said. “We’re just trying to play the whole team and get everybody in there so we’re not all tired during the game.”
Antoine had averaged just 4.6 points per game but scored 13 on Monday with four assists and a steal. Most of her points came from the free-throw line, where she hit 8 of 9 shots.
Her two foul shots with 6:14 left put the team at 80 percent from the foul line at 20 for 25. A few misses later in the game dropped the final stat line to 69 percent, but it was enough to give USC Aiken the win after building a 23-point second-half lead.
DeGraffinreed went 6 of 7 from the free throw line. Starting forward Kayla Harris struggled from the field again, hitting just 4 of 12 shots, but she hit 3 of 5 foul shots and added four assists, two blocks and two steals to go with her 11 points.
The Lady Hurricanes, who shot just 21 percent (13 of 62) from the field, were led by Terra Branch’s 11 points.