The No. 5 USC Aiken women’s basketball team extended an impressive streak on Nov. 17, pushing its record to 27-0 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 50 points.
The Pacers (3-0) have done so twice this year, with Florida Southern barely clearing the line at 51 points in the season opener. Today, another Sunshine State school, Florida Tech (3-1), will try its hand at scoring more than half a hundred on the Pacer women when the two teams square off at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.
Even if the Panthers are able to match the Mocs’ output, it likely won’t be enough thanks to the Pacers’ top four scorers. Led by junior forward Kayla Harris with 17 points, USCA’s top four scorers are averaging a combined 51 points on their own. Senior guard Daniela Tarialo is averaging 14.7 points per game on a 12-of-23 effort from beyond the 3-point line (.522), junior forward Porsha Martin is averaging 10.3 a game and sophomore forward Mackenzie Reese is scoring nine a game.
Harris and Reese are also leading the team in rebounds per game with 8.3 and 6.7 respectively, while Harris has made 15 of 17 free throw attempts (.882).
The Panthers have three players scoring on that level, led by 5-foot-9 junior forward Jasmire Brown with 16.5 points. She’s also among the team leaders in rebounds with 4.5 – redshirt freshman forward BreAnn Davis leads Florida Tech with 5.3 a game – so the matchup between Harris and Brown is one to watch for the game.
One area where Brown has the edge over the 5-11 Harris is perimeter shooting. While Harris has shown touch in the high post, Brown is more polished from beyond the arc, having made 8 of 17 attempts for a .471 percentage. She’s behind only grad student guard Ashley Hampton in that category for the Panthers, as Brown is 5-of-8 (.625) on longballs for the season and averaging 8.8 points per game.
Sophomore guard Kayk Wilson is the other Panther in double-digits in scoring with 10.8 points a contest.
The Pacers also have a decided advantage in the assists department. Junior point guard Brittany Hill is USCA’s assist leader with six per game, and Harris is averaging 3.7. That leaves both of them ahead of the Panthers’ leader, Rita Acevedo, who has 3.3 per game so far this year.
As a team, the Panthers are out-rebounding the Pacers by an average of 47-39 for the year. The home team has the upper hand in shooting percentage allowed, though, holding opponents to .350 from the floor while the Panthers are allowing .364. That could be cause for concern for the visitors, who are only shooting .366 on the year as compared to the Pacers’ .486.
The most impressive area to compare the two squads lies on the sidelines with Pacer head coach Mike Brandt and Panther head coach John Reynolds. While Brandt, in his 11th year at USC Aiken after 13 years at Northeastern Junior College, collected his 450th career victory in the Pacers’ Nov. 17 win over Catawba, Reynolds is still a step ahead of him.
Having been the head coach at Florida Tech for 26 of the program’s 27 seasons – he was an assistant during the inaugural 1986-87 campaign, Reynolds has amassed 463 wins, all at the D-II level.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
What: USC Aiken women’s basketball
Who: USCA (3-0) vs. Florida Tech (3-1)
When: Today, 2 p.m.
Where: USCA Convocation Center
USCA: Kayla Harris, Jr. F. Harris is leading the Pacers in points per game (17), rebounds (8.3) and free-throw shooting (.882), and her ability to shoot the jumper or drive to the basket makes her tough to guard.
Florida Tech: Jasmire Brown, Jr. F. Brown is also her team’s leader in points with 16.5 and free-throw shooting (.818), and she can’t be left alone from outside. Her 8-of-17 effort from beyond the arc is among the team’s best.