Today’s Peach Belt Conference opener between the women’s basketball teams from No. 3 USC Aiken and UNC Pembroke has the looks of a matchup between a good team and a better team.
Start with the records. UNCP is 5-2 with five straight wins to its credit and a victory over Wingate to avenge one of its season-opening losses, but USCA is an undefeated 6-0. The Pacers’ closest margin of victory was an eight-point win at Wingate on Dec. 7, and no team has come closer than 12 points of beating USCA at the Convocation Center.
The team statistics take on a similar feeling. UNCP is averaging 62.7 points a game, which is certainly respectable since the Braves are only giving up 55.7 per game. The Pacers have them beat, though, with an average score of about 75-53 on the year.
In fact, the only major statistical categories in which the Braves have the advantage heading into the 5:30 p.m. contest are team rebounding and field-goal percentage allowed. They hold a 38.1-36.7 edge on the boards and only allow 31.6 percent from the floor as compared to the Pacers’ 33.4 percent.
The momentum tips back toward the Pacers in regard to individual performance. The Braves are led in scoring by sophomore forward Jazmine Kemp with 12.6 points per contest, and she’s averaging 7.1 rebounds. That’s impressive, but not as much so as Pacer junior forward Kayla Harris, who is scoring at a rate of 19 points per game and collects 7.5 rebounds on average.
The Braves’ next leading scorer is senior guard Amelia Partin with 9.6 points per game to go with 2.9 assists, and she has connected on 18 of 44 (.409) 3-point attempts. Not to be outdone, the Pacers have their own senior sharpshooter in Daniela Tarialo, who scores 13.2 points and grabs 4.7 rebounds on average. Tarailo has also hit 20 of 39 longball attempts, good for a 51.3 percent clip from betond the arc – the seventh-best percentage in all of NCAA Division II.
Two more Pacers are averaging more points per game than Partin, with Mackenzie Reese scoring 9.8 a game and Brittany Hill adding in 9.7. Reese is also hauling in 4.2 rebounds per contest, while Hill is the team leader in assists per game with 5.3.
Recent history would suggest that the edge isn’t so clearly in the Pacers’ favor, though.
The teams met three times last season, with UNCP winning 52-46 on its home floor on Jan. 18 and USCA returning the favor by a 58-44 count on Feb. 11. The Pacers took the season series in the PBC tournament with a 54-41 victory on Mar. 3.
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: No. 3 USCA (6-0) vs. UNC Pembroke (5-2)
When: Today, 5:30 p.m.
Where: USCA Convocation Center
USCA: Kayla Harris, Jr. F. In addition to a team-best 19 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Harris has connected on 20 of her 23 free-throw attempts on the season for a .870 percentage.
UNCP: Jazmine Kemp, So. F. The 5-foot-10 second-year player will try to go toe-to-toe with Harris today and is averaging 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest.